There are many life lessons that one can learn by playing sports. From goal setting, perseverance, endurance to mental strength, team spirit and a positive attitude, sports can prepare us to live a satisfied life, off the field. This holds true because there are innumerable examples of people who have excelled and made a mark in life after having learnt life lessons through sports.
The inspiring story of Sakshi Chauhan from Uttarakhand who developed a positive attitude towards life by playing wheelchair basketball. Sakshi met with a grievous accident around 16 years back and just like any other day, Sakshi who lived in Tehri in Garhwal went to the market when the accident happened. While crossing the road, a bus hit Sakshi and the wheels of the bus ran over her legs. Sakshi who hails from a lower middle-class family was only 8-years-old when the incident occurred and both her legs were severely damaged.
There was no ambulance facility way back then and it took more than 4 hours to reach the nearest hospital. Sakshi had lost a lot of blood and she went into a state of unconsciousness. The doctors had informed her parents that one leg needs to be amputated immediately before further complications arise.
With no other option left, her left leg was amputated. During her stay at the hospital for three months, she could only feel the pain. But while she returned home, she felt shattered and devastated,” recalled Sakshi adding that one of the statements from the doctor ‘Your daughter may not stand on her legs for the whole life and you would have to take care of her’, made her family more worried.
Sakshi was soon shifted to Rishikesh as her village being located on a hillside was not wheelchair friendly. She was physically and mentally disturbed. When she used to see the other children playing on the fields, She realised that her life will never be the same again and she felt the world has come to an end.
Her friends no longer spoke to Sakshi as they got used to getting scared seeing her wrapped in bandages. She could not go to school anymore and the treatment/comments from relatives added to her woes. Both her father and mother had to work hard to manage her hospital expenses.
For one year after the accident, Sakshi found life very challenging. From going to school and returning back, it was a herculean task. But, with the help of prosthetics, Sakshi could manage herself and slowly got used to it. She was determined to prove the world that life is meant to be a challenge. With complete support from her parents, Sakshi started to actively take part in dance and singing competitions at school.
Her talent was highly appreciated and this gave her a boost to do something big in life. “I have no regrets for losing my leg; since I am not made for walking but for flying,” said a strong-willed Sakshi who started to actively participate in sports in her college days and is now a wheelchair basketball player.
Sharing that playing basketball has helped her in developing a positive attitude and having determination, she represents Maharashtra team which had won the Nationals in Chandigarh in 2019. This was one of the best moments in her life and there has been no looking back since then.
This gave her an opportunity to represent the country in the Asia Oceanic Wheelchair basketball qualifier held at Bangkok. Apart from this, she is also a regular marathon runner.” The understanding of disability in India remains a big concern as we are seen as aliens. Second, accessibility is yet another big challenge as most of the infrastructure and public places in India are not accessible for wheelchair users. In her view, the country needs to change its view about disability.
They need to view us as contributing citizens and the fact that we need to be included in the society. This will lead to a common understanding which will surely lead to accessible and inclusive society.
This courageous girl is multi-talented as well. She is a writer, storyteller and a Gadhwali singer. She had even hosted an event called ‘Shout’ in Dehradun. She has been invited as a motivational speaker in Cochin, Chennai, etc to share her inspiring journey.
Sakshi has accepted her disability; that’s the key to move on in life. She is independent and she has travelled solo for her training, championships, etc. So, she will continue with her sporting career and at the same time, she would love to work and encourage persons with disabilities, especially the younger ones. They should learn to accept disability and work towards changing the way the world thinks of disability,” concluded the young champ.