Accidents can be seen as the stop sign to one's dreams or a deviation to a whole different path - it all depends upon how one views it. An unfortunate accident that I had met with on the way to a basketball match turned my life upside down. A game that I loved so dearly was put on pause due to the disability the accident left me with. For the longest time, I also believed that the accident had put my life at a standstill, but a small switch in my perspective made all the necessary changes. Today I, Shagun Pathak, continue to convey this message confidently through my life.
An Accident That Cost Me My Aspirations
As a district-level basketball player, my goal was clear, and I saw myself building a future in athletics. So when the accident left me disabled, I was shattered because the basketball court would no longer be the same for me. Spending weeks after weeks in bed with a locomotor disability, I was slowly beginning to give up hope, but my parents never did. There wasn't a place they didn't take me to seek treatment, and for them, I wanted to hold on with some hope. However, that too met with a dead-end when a doctor from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said that not much could be done and that I would have to continue living with the condition.
Back at my home, I would see my younger sibling go to school and tuition while I stayed in bed all day long, not being able to move around. The accident was one of the worst phases of my life, and at that point, I asked myself, "Are you really happy?" The answer was clearly a "No," and I did not want to stay in that situation any longer.
My family and I had shifted to Delhi about eight years back, but due to my disability, I struggled a lot to find a job. I was turned away from several companies, and many institutions were not even accessible to me. As someone who did not have any form of assistive technology at that point in time, I had to rely heavily on people to help me around. It was not an easy journey, but there was no way I wanted to remain stuck in that phase of my life.
Dribbling Past Struggles
From not being able to find proper facilities at workplaces to finally landing a dream job at a banking company, I knew I had to take my story to the people and help at least one person who is struggling like me. I became a disability rights activist, motivational speaker, and open-mic artist. It was only when I decided to rewrite my fate that all of this was made possible. I now move about with a rollator and have been planning to try my hand at the Paralympics.
I also came across the space known as Atypical Advantage, which facilitates livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities. Through them, I have been able to take ahead my vision of ensuring that every Person With Disability (PWD) is aware of their rights and finds a space to be independent. I have collaborated with a local restaurant in Noida to make their place accessible for wheelchair users and spoken at multiple forums, including Max life insurance, C-Quel, FAT Documentary, Sardari TV24/7, and Barclays, to take forward my message.
Everyone should be able to live their life to the fullest. As a motivational speaker, I believe my role is to provide them with real-life practical tools and strategies to help build positive habits and turn their lives around. Life is really not that tough; what is tough is to believe in yourself. Once you do that, absolutely anything is possible. By putting across my story, I hope to inspire at least one more person to come out of their shell and build their life from scratch.
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