Fostering Inclusion in the Outdoors
“Streams of sweat trickled down my forehead.
I could hear my heart thumping, the blood gushed to my face.
It throbbed like it was going to explode.
I was at my threshold.”
What is adventure? An unusual and exciting, daring experience.
We are what we do. If you want something in life then you don’t wait for someone to help achieve your goal, you get on with it and make it happen.
As homo sapiens I believe we are hard coded to learn, seek newness and explore. We are born natural adventurers. But, as we grow we tend to doubt ourselves, believing that we are incapacitated to do certain things. This self doubt grows into a disability, a mental block that prevents us from pursuing our desires. But, if you have a dream or an idea, don’t let it go, seize it and never give up. Even a disability becomes an insignificant mention if you know what you want and willing to put in the required effort.
Divyanshu Ganatra is one such unstoppable individual who has shattered the stereotypes around disabilities. Despite losing his eyesight to Glaucoma at an early age, today Divyanshu is a clinical psychologist, educationist and researcher.
Over the years he has proved that “disability” is a very relative term and what is more important, is each individual’s attitude and their willingness to go out and explore.
On his journey to self exploration, he also founded the Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF) that solely works toward promoting inclusivity.
This not for profit organization works towards providing outdoor adventure experiences for people with disability. It is also the first organization in India to promote Tandem Cycling (Two or more people cycling on a bike frame that accommodates multiple cyclists).
(This film has won the “People’s Choice Awards” at the IMF Mountain Film Festival 2019 and has been nominated as one of the world’s best bike movies; by the 17th annual Filmed by Bike Festival.)
On August 18, 2018, a group of 17 cyclists (cancer survivors, amputees, blind, visually impaired and able-bodied) from all over the world between the age of 15 to 65 started from Manali with one mission — to cycle in order to push their physical and mental barriers while making the world more inclusive and empathetic.
Over the course of 10 days, these cyclists peddled together to the highest all-weather motorable road in the world — Khardung La, braving five mountain passes, extreme weather conditions, high altitudes over 18,000 feet, low oxygen conditions, and most of all, the limitations the world had put on them.
A similar adventure is in planning for August 2017. For more details check out this link.
When overland adventures became routine, the ABBF team learned how to scuba dive.
In addition to his academic qualifications, Divyanshu is also India’s first blind paragliding pilot. Here is a snippet of his first flight.
Today Divyanshu Ganatra and his foundation Adventures Beyond Barriers have averted all misconceptions around disability. They have proven that experiencing adventure and the thrill around it, is not for a select few.
If their work inspires you, you can follow them on social media as well.
“All good things are your birthright! You are the creator of you, and the law of attraction is your magnificent tool to create whatever you want in your life.” – The Secret
If you still need to feel inspired, read the story of Aditya Bikram Pande, a prominent mountaineer from Himachal Pradesh and his discovery of the new 8000 meter mountain in India.
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Author: Shantanu Negi
Engineer, marketer, skipping rope geek, lover boy. When not strategising about our next online onslaught, Shantanu divides his time between anime and desserts.