Dubai-based girl creates awareness about wheelchair access

Dubai-based girl creates awareness about wheelchair access
Shobhika Karla

Dubai - With the help of her elder sister, Dubai-based Shobhika started her initiative 'Wings of Angelz'


Ankita Chaturvedi

Published: Wed 8 Mar 2017, 6:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Mar 2017, 8:56 PM

Sometimes the right attitude is all it takes to turn your weaknesses into strengths. Twenty six-year-old Shobhika Karla is different not because she is wheelchair bound but because she has used her disability to educate and motivate others around. With the help of her elder sister, Dubai-based Shobhika started her initiative 'Wings of Angelz' through which she aims to create awareness about the need to make more places accessible for people in wheelchairs, two years ago. Today, almost 150 volunteers are involved in helping her out with the initiative.
"I personally believe that the single biggest reason, due to which places are not wheelchair accessible, is the lack of awareness," she said.
When asked what inspired her to start the initiative, Shobhika said: " It was a personal experience back in India that got me thinking about creating awareness about the issue. I had gone to watch a movie with my elder sister Ruchika when we realised their was no ramp or arrangement for a wheelchair bound to go to the theatre. I was shocked and disheartened, more so at the casual attitude the authorities had towards people with special needs. It was clear lack of awareness and served as an eye-opener for me and my sister."
Shobhika said that her initiative aims to make the world more wheelchair accessible and is in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai disabled-friendly by 2020. Wings Of Angelz was also recently featured in a book called 'Actions and Insights - Middle East & Africa', which was launched by Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance.
"I thought I was the best person to start this initiative and inspire them to go out and lead a normal life like others."
Talking about how she and her team goes about it, Shobhika said: "We identify and go to the places where wheelchair ramps are not available and then we speak to the managers and raise awareness about it.
Up until now, she along with her team members have successfully managed to make over 500 places wheelchair accessible. These include areas in some key organisations like RTA, Emirates NBD, Bab Al Shams etc.
The most recent addition to the list is Baskin Robins stores. Thanks to the Wings of Angelz initiative, most of the Baskin Robins stores in Dubai are now wheelchair accessible. This initiative is running in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and two major cities of India - Delhi and Bangalore. I wish to spread the awareness across the world,"said Shobhika.
Shobhika lost her ability to walk when she was only 13 due to a degenerative disease. However, this hasn't stopped her from pursuing her ambitions. Apart from her Wings of Angelz initiative, she is also working with Eduscan as a product development executive and runs a beauty blog as well.
Against all odds, Shobhika recently even went for scuba diving to spread the awareness so that more and more people can get associated with it and volunteer for the cause. For every wheel chair bound person, she has a message, "World is a nice place, let's get out of our homes and explore it, don't hesitate but enjoy."

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