Himanshu Wadhwa, 17yrs old, tries his best to speak. He can see people around him trying to understand him. What his speech lacks, emerges through his sporting skills. A confidence to participate and compete; and a determination to win. The cricket competition brought him hope, stoked him from a long period of inactivity to practise a sport that is close to his heart, while also giving him a thrill of how close can he get to his cricket icon, MS Dhoni.
Himanshu gave a surprise to his coach, Anish Girdhar, on the day of the finals when he tapped the ball about 50 counts higher than what he maintained during the practises. Anish, who has been a Coach with SO Bharat since 2015, found a great improvement in him in terms of his skills and also, his demeanour in the 15-20 day build-up to the final competition. Himanshu has been seeking training from a group of Coaches : Lovish, Priya and Meenu along with Anish. In a way they have all contributed to his achievements today
Himanshu is a student of Pathseekers, an integrated school managed by Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) Educational and Environmental Society and is located in Beas, Amritsar. Last 20 days had him go there every day, for his practises under the supervision of his Coach.
|Himanshu with Coach Anish|
Himanshu, from birth, showed signs of delayed milestones, beginning with a delayed ‘birth cry’ that may have led to a mild to moderate Intellectual Disability. His parents are both Sewadars (servitor) with RSSB. They made him join a mainstream school, before he joined Pathseekers but Himanshu started to withdraw, staying quiet, staying by himself and exhibiting a low self-esteem, all of which worried them and finally took them to Pathseekers
When he joined Pathseekers in 2014 he continued to face Challenges of coping with and being accepted by the mainstream students. Through several counselling sessions with him and also with the mainstream students, the overall environment began to show signs of acceptance. This was further fortified by celebrating international days that celebrate Persons with differences, like, the World Disability Day. Himanshu was introduced to a Vocational training centre, where he tried all courses, showing an exceptional ability for art and craft.
Sports entered his regimen in 2015 through Special Olympics and he went for Athletics and Badminton. His Coaches observed a great physical ability in him that could lead him higher and higher in sports. So far, he has won 18 Medals, including 7 Gold, 5 Silver and 6 Bronze.
Himanshu has an important role to play at home as well. He helps his mother in the daily chores, many a times seen chopping vegetables for an upcoming meal or buying milk.
However, it is true that he and his parents were initially, a little confused on how an ‘online’ mode will be possible with cricket that is so grassroot in India. Within the next few days all of them, including the Coach had adapted to a #NewNormal that defied any situation from stalling a passion-driven sport from being carried out
From every Athlete like Himanshu, emanates a story of re-invention, challenge, victory and an opportunity of turning despair to hope– Pathseekers