Exploring technology and it’s inclusive impact is a passionate Golfer, a Unified Partner, a young man who considers Special Olympics to be his second nature- Barnik Bardhan, 35 yrs, from Kolkata, West Bengal.
With Pritam Hazra and Sayan Panja, his team members and the developers- Gainer technologies, the past year had him submerge in designing & developing the Application. While the outdoor activities curtailed due to the pandemic, the ecology encouraging development did not, and the trio proved it.
Barnik recalls how what started as a resource tool has evolved into a much broader project – an application which is now being developed as a digital platform to organize and manage one of the largest single day health screening programs, perhaps, ever attempted- Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The challenge in developing the app overall, certainly came from developing a neutral paradigm that would appeal to athletes of all abilities. The solutions came through several brainstorming sessions within his team as well as with Special Olympics.
Barnik’s earliest memory of Special Olympics goes back to 1993, observing his father, Mr Bibek Bardhan, carving a thermocol replica of the Salt-lake stadium just before the West Bengal State Games. However, Barnik never really got involved other than seeing many of his friends participate in events as volunteers and partners; although he remembers visiting Shomu, an Athlete, at his home to play video games together. Being an audience to a few sporting events left an imprint too. He recounted an incident from years back, where an Athlete refused to run. He just was not in a mood to do so that day. Ms Lina Bardhan, a special educator and a rehabilitation psychologist, kept talking with him and encouraging him to do so. He finally ran. Immediately after, he also ran to hug Ms Bardhan, expressing his joy in having to participate. Whether he stood first, second or third did not matter.
Barnik has been a keen golfer since the 7th grade. He ensures that he pursues the sport despite his office hours. His golfing journey too exercised an inclusive influence bringing him in touch with Rajdeep, a 17 yr old Athlete from Kolkata , about some 4-5 months back. They partnered to participate in the Golf National Coaching Camp held in New Delhi in November 2021. Rajdeep has been with SO Bharat since 2012, having participated in Athletics as well. He too travels to the Golf Course to play his passion. It has been over two years that he receives training from a popular name in the Golfing circuit, Indrajit Bhalotia of the Protouch Academy and is the only athlete with Downs Syndrome in a group of 500.expression, his reaction and the underlying message continues to glow bright even today.
“Rajdeep makes me confident. The ‘I Can’ attitude is infectious and I attribute it to his influence, in my life. Overall, I find myself lucky having seen life through the Special Olympics lens, something that I trust has made me a better person, sensitizing me towards what a community outlook really means. There is no specific impact of Special Olympics on me, it is my second nature.”- says Barnik
As his parents often regret not having spent enough time with Barnik in his childhood, to pursue their commitment to Special Olympics, it perhaps is the overall environment that each one of them unintentionally created, making sports and Inclusion come full circle.