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Being inside the Buckingham Palace was like a dream, says para-athlete Devika Malik

Devika was one of the 59 young achievers from age group 18-29 years picked from the Commonwealth countries for their exceptional contribution to society.

Priyanka Srivastava | News18.comhttp://@yanki25

Updated:July 13, 2015, 6:47 PM IST
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Being inside the Buckingham Palace was like a dream, says para-athlete Devika Malik
Devika was one of the 59 young achievers from age group 18-29 years picked from the Commonwealth countries for their exceptional contribution to society.

London: When para athlete Devika Malik, 24, received an official intimation from Buckingham Palace, confirming the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s The Queen Young Leaders award, little did she know that it would be a life-changing experience.

“The evening at Buckingham Palace was like a dream,” says Devika, co-founder of Wheeling Happiness Foundation, who was hemiplegic (paralysis of half the body) as a child, but now plays a key role in motivating differently-able people to take up para sports. In London, her day started with breakfast hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street, who was “all ears about the project,” undertaken by young achievers.

This was followed by interaction with Sir John Major, chairman of the Trust, an inspiring message by actress –philanthropist Angelina Jolie, free-flowing chat with footballer David Bechkam, actor Steve McQueen, Emma Freud, English stand up comedian and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams, British comedian John Bishop and more. The evening could not have been better. “They (the celebrities) were so keen to know about our work. The genuine concern and interest to learn more about our social work was remarkable,” said Devika, at sidelines of a felicitation event organised by High Commission of India, London.

Devika was one of the 59 young achievers from age group 18-29 years picked from the Commonwealth countries for their exceptional contribution to society. The other two Indians awarded by the Queen include Akshay Jadhao, 29, from Buldhana and visually challenged Ashwini Angadi, 29. Akshay, an IIM-Kozhikode alumni discarded a cushy job in a multi-national company to launch a programme which helps in imparting education and improve job opportunities in rural belt of Vidarbha.

Backed by Prince William and Prince Harry, the award initiated by Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Trust, this was the first awards ceremony aimed at encouraging the young achievers making an effort to bring about changes in the society. The self-nominated winners had to undergo a series of screening process, including an interview and a thorough background check.

Palace-Group

“The award ceremony brought us close to several young achievers from other commonwealth countries, during our week long stay in UK. We have been offered an online course by Cambridge University to polish our leadership skills and advocate fund raising for our project,” said Devika. “A mentor has been assigned to each one of us. A lawyer from USA will mentor me for the coming eight months,” added Devika.

Wheeling Happiness is a foundation started by Devika and her mother Deepa, who is wheelchair bound for the last 15 years, after a tumour removal from her spinal cord left her paralyzed. Arjuna Awardee Deepa has championed various para-sport tournaments. Wheeling Happiness motivates paraplegic people to take up para sports, standing up with the moto “ability beyond disability.”

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