With a stopover in Pune during his 3,500 kilometre road trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, quadriplegic athlete and wheelchair-bound tennis champion, Harry Boniface Prabhu, addressed the differently-abled employees of Cinepolis Seasons Mall, Magarpatta and taught them basic sign language.
VEER Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) is a 30-day long journey that the para-athlete has taken up with an aim to promote awareness and educate the masses about Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country.
“Every disabled person has a potential and all we need to do is unleash that. I hope this expedition will set the ground for some meaningful interventions,” he said. “Somebody asked me the other day, what will I do once the journey to Kanyakumari ends. I told them, the journey ends but the education and awareness actually begins,” he added.
“I am a quadriplegic with no fingers, no legs, and no back support and yet have taken up this big challenge. And today, see it is a reality. My entire team has supported me,” he said.
In the expedition, the 2014 Padma Shri award winner is stopping in different cities, educating the public administration about the differently-abled, and encouraging a platform for them to exist ‘equally’ vis-a-vis public policy as well as through understanding their aspirations.
While describing his changeover to wheelchair tennis from his occupation as an athlete, Prabhu said that despite having a world record in discus throw and being the first Indian to win the medal at the world championships, he had to wait for two to four years for every tournament being a quadriplegic. “For a disabled person, sports is the best form of rehabilitation. And tennis keeps me totally busy,” he added.
Referring to Indian para-athletes’ victories in Rio Paralympics 2016, he said, “I wish to congratulate all the Veers. They are also Veers. They have made our country proud and they have made us, every single disabled person proud.”