The Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group (CYSDP) has grown tremendously within the past year, adding a number of new team members from across the multicultural Commonwealth. While you may be aware of the CYSDP’s mission and vision, it’s important to know who our members are. Every month we’ll introduce a CYSDP member to give you a deeper insight into the lives of youth leaders and practitioners in Sport for Development and Peace (SDP). This month, the spotlight is on Ms Devika Malik of India.
Tell us about yourself and the work that you do.
I am an international para–athlete, social worker, psychological counsellor and research scholar. Over the past decade, I have worked actively towards the education of economically under-privileged children, vocational training for rehabilitated sex-workers & AIDS-affected children, and emotional and physical rehabilitative techniques for physically challenged individuals.
A strong background in volunteer work and first-hand engagement in disability sport led me to participate in the Youth Leadership Camp organised by UNOSDP (United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace). Guided by the sports for development techniques (SDP) learnt during training, I co-founded the Wheeling Happiness Foundation, with the aim of enhancing the social integration and emotional well-being of persons with disabilities through sports and outdoor activities, as well as awareness and advocacy workshops. In recognition of our work, I was conferred the Queen’s Young Leader Award 2015 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and granted Associate Fellowship of the Royal Commonwealth Society for service to the Commonwealth.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in the SDP sector?
From providing informal consultation to persons with disabilities to establishing a foundation where we partner with others in the social sector to implement SDP principles, this has been a truly rewarding journey. Sport has a universal appeal that cuts across the barriers of varying societies and cultures and truly promotes inclusion. In addition to introducing numerous differently-abled persons to the rehabilitative and recreational benefits of sport, we have also been able to promote self–confidence among people with disabilities through engagement in outdoor activities. Additionally, the foundation mobilises volunteers to carry out projects like construction of wheelchair ramps in public places, the promotion of para-sports in schools, free counselling sessions, sensitisation of domestic airline staff towards passengers with disabilities and fundraising for the provision of artificial limbs. Through platforms such as TEDx and advocacy sessions at schools, colleges and corporations, as well as participation in various international conferences, I have also addressed the ‘double stigma’ experienced by women globally on account of gender and disability.
How has your involvement in the CYSDP enhanced your work?
My involvement with CYSDP has not only enhanced our reach and credibility as an organisation within India, but also helped me understand SDP from a global perspective. This engagement has provided me with humbling opportunities like allowing me to share my experiences at the Commonwealth Secretariat headquarters during International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2015 celebrations, as well as contributing to the 10th Commonwealth Youth Forum in 2015. Above all, I am immensely grateful for the network of young SDP workers around the Commonwealth that I can access because of the CYSDP.
Follow Devika on Twitter at @
For more information on CYSDP, visit us at:
Website – http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/cysdp/
Facebook – Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group
Twitter – @CommYouthSDP
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