Devika Malik’s Commonwealth story

Apr 19, 2018
Hannah Donovan

On 19th April 2018, Devika Malik shared her story at the Formal Opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace, alongside Her Majesty The Queen, and Prime Minister Theresa May. Here is her story.

I am Devika Malik, Queen’s Young Leader from India.

I am a para – athlete with a congenital disability. My mother, who also has a disability, became India’s first female Paralympic medallist. Together we established Wheeling Happiness foundation. Our aim is to give young people with disabilities confidence and independence through sport, and equip them with life skills. We also work with schools and employers to break down barriers – barriers of attitude as well as physical ones – that stand in their way.

It can transform lives. One of our beneficiaries, Shweta, was abandoned by her husband after polio progressed and left her unable to walk. With our support she took up sports. Over the past 2 years this single mother of two has emerged a self-reliant sportswoman with national and international medals to her credit.

As a member of Commonwealth Youth Sports for Development and Peace Working Group I have made connections with others in my field who share the same objectives. As a Queen’s Young Leader I have been able to meet and collaborate with young change makers across the Commonwealth improving lives in their communities.

Last week at the Commonwealth Games in Australia inspirational para athletes were in action achieving extraordinary things, demonstrating abilities beyond their disabilities.

The Commonwealth is a pioneer in recognizing that the youth are leaders of today, not tomorrow.

Young community leaders with disabilities came together at a round table on Monday to discuss their vision for an inclusive common future. There is a growing commitment of Commonwealth Governments towards empowering people with disabilities.

My experience is testament that when people with disabilities have a voice, they make the society a richer place.

– Devika Malik

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