The volunteers broke out into groups of three and went to mark places that were not having wheelchair access.
Dubai - This week Shobhika along with 25 volunteers organised the group's fifth Ramp Day wherein they asked the public to join them in identifying places that do not have wheelchair access.
Twenty-seven-year-old Shobhika was diagnosed with a rare inherited degenerative disorder when she was at the threshold of her teens. At 14, she became wheelchair bound as the incurable disease affected her nervous system, muscles and heart. When she joined university, she needed to travel by metro which turned out to be quite a struggle as most of the footpaths/sidewalks were not wheelchair accessible and this is when she launched her CDA-approved organisation, Wings of Angelz, to create awareness about wheelchair accessibility.
This week Shobhika along with 25 volunteers organised the group's fifth Ramp Day wherein they asked the public to join them in identifying places that do not have wheelchair access.
"I personally believe that the single biggest reason for less accessibility is the lack of awareness. The Ramp Day was introduced so that people can form groups to volunteer and identify places that do not have wheelchair access."
"A drop curve - the official term for a ramp - not only helps people on the wheelchair but even helps parents of children on the pram to move comfortably. I believe a ramp does not only work on the comfort but it also subconsciously works on an individual's confidence level," she told Khaleej Times.
Talking about how it all started, Shobhika said: "Although metro stations are wheelchair accessible, the footpath that go to the Metro was not wheelchair accessible, so it was difficult for me to go to the college by Metro. But as soon as I brought this to the notice of the RTA and they built the ramp at the Rashidiya Metro Station. "One day I just went around by metro identifying footpaths near the metro stations that don't have wheelchair access. I made a note of them and then followed up with the authority till the ramps got made. Everyone in the society should have the right to travel without assistance," Shobhika said.
"Wings of Angelz started three years ago 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, of making Dubai disabled-friendly by 2020. When people get together for a cause, it creates a deeper impact - inclusion of people with disabilities in our society," Shobhika told Khaleej Times.
The group met at the DIFC metro station, wherein the volunteers of the Ramp Day were briefed about what they had to do. The volunteers broke out into groups of three and went to mark places that were not having wheelchair access. The volunteers then spoke to the managers of the different places they visited and requested them to make those places wheelchair friendly.
Reuben Zacharia Samuel, a participant at the Ramp Day, said: "It was a great event. We got to meet several companies in the DIFC area and helped raise awareness about wheelchair accessibility. Companies were extremely supportive and the managers made sure that they would install wheelchair ramps in their shops.
Another volunteer, Mohammad Raza Shakeel, said: "For me, Shobhika is really an inspiration. She has managed to achieve very important things in life even after being wheelchair-bound. She is doing all this for those people who can't help themselves, who are afraid to go out because might others will treat them in a different way. This step of hers is not only changing lives of many people but also their way of thinking and looking at disabled people."
Shobhika and her team have managed to get over 700 places become wheelchair accessible in the past three years. This includes key organisations like the RTA , Emirates NBD , Bab Al Shams , Aster pharmacies and clinics, Life pharmacy, Al Rostamani International Exchange, Emaar etc.