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Avani, Bhavina travel for award ceremony in specially-designed accessible vehicles

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) Para-shooter Avani Lekhara has made the country proud by winning not one but two medals at the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

For this feat, she was chosen for Major Dhyan Singh Khel Ratna Award, the highest sports award in the country.

But one thing she has been fighting is her war against inaccessible environments. Travelling places on wheel-chair is never easy and Avani from her childhood has realised this.

India's another champion athlete, Bhavina Patel, won a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Para Games in table tennis. She was chosen for the prestigious Arjuna Award this year. Along with accolades and awards with Avani, Bhavina shares her pain and problems because she too is a wheelchair- restricted athlete.

Svayam, a charitable trust that promotes accessibility for the differently abled, then came to the rescue of the champion para-athletes and enabled them a smooth commute till the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the National Awards Ceremony on Saturday.

Svayam, with its specially-modified vehicles, enables wheelchairs to be directly moved inside the vehicle hence doing away with the embarrassment these players usually face when they have to travel.

"These vehicles have been a great revelation and understand the needs of athletes on wheel-chairs. We have to wear a saree for the function and if it hadn't been for these vehicles, it would have been nearly impossible for us to be in official attire. It is a start and I hope it sends out a message that we need an accessible environment for everyone," says Avani.

"Svayam has not only provided these vehicles, but also have made some rooms accessible for wheelchair athletes in the Ashok Hotel where we have been staying. It is high time we understand that accessibility is a big issue not only for people with disability, but also elder and injured people," said Arjuna Awardee Bhavina.