Goa, January 2023: In a unique initiative, as many as 47 differently abled persons, who were delegates at the recently concluded ‘Purple Fest’, got an opportunity of a lifetime to wade into the sea off Panaji’s popular Miramar beach, with the help of Drishti Marine’s trained lifeguards.
The “Purple Fest: Celebrating Diversity,” organized by the Goa government’s State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in Goa, drew 5000 delegates from across India. The three-day festival was aimed at encouraging people to overcome personal stereotypes and creating an environment that educates people about the disabled community and their abilities, while also respecting and celebrating diversity and inclusivity.
Among the plethora of events held in the capital, Panaji, one event “Fun at the Beach” was supervised by Drishti Marine, Goa’s state appointed lifesaving and rescue organization.
Drishti’s lifeguards (also referred to as lifesavers) oversaw the event, assisting the delegates in taking a brief, but memorable dip in the sea off Miramar beach.
Miramar Beach was specially outfitted with a customized ramp for the festival, allowing delegates in wheelchairs to visit the shore. The delegates were then transferred to specially modified wheelchairs with inflatable wheels. The special wheelchairs were supplied by a Mumbai-based company, Seedee Wheelchairs. Two lifesavers escorted each delegate into the water, where they were free to enjoy the waves and cool sea water.
Speaking about the unique event, Navin Awasthi, Operations Head at Drishti Marine, says “Drishti is in collaboration with the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities to oversee the comfort of the various delegates from across India at the beach. We have welcomed delegates from Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru and so on. The tyres of the specially modified wheelchairs have adequate buoyancy to float in the water. The lifesavers helped the individuals wade into the water, giving them an opportunity to feel the sea and its joys for themselves.”
Pooja, a delegate from Delhi who has been in a wheelchair for ten years, shared her experience in the waters of Miramar. “I’ve had a really enjoyable time being able to experience water in the manner I have. I felt free and very much alive,” she said.
For the duration of the festival, the Drishti lifesavers assisted forty-seven delegates to wade into the shallow end of the sea. The delegates were from various Indian states and from various walks of life. The event drew both children and adults. Doctors, dentists, and software engineers were among the attendees.