Yasmeen Maqbool, an all-time softie is the Features Editor of Filmfare ME, Salt ‘n’ Peppa and Femina ME. Her passion lies in telling stories about people who do what they do because it matters.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will,” is the belief of the founders of Wills on Wheels Foundation (W.O.W), a non-profit organization run and enabled by people on wheels, for people on wheels. Headquartered in Mumbai, it is founded by two pairs of siblings, amongst whom three are on wheelchair: Priti and Prasad Shetty and Maitri and Rahul Shah.
With a vision for every person with physical disability to lead a dignified and a productive life, the foursome got together and on 3rd Dec, 2012 World Disability Day they initiated this foundation. “We aim to engage, educate and empower the physically disabled in our society,” they say in unison.
The initiative aims to form a vibrant online community for people on wheels, to provide education and employment opportunities for them, to provide counselling for families of people on wheels, to disburse information on laws, rights and facilities for people on wheels and to create awareness and sensitise the masses on physical disability.
Being the youngest member of the founding team, Maitri, 21, was first to draw inspiration to start the foundation from Satyameva Jayate (an Indian television talk show). She wants W.O.W to be a unique organisation driven by the people on wheels for the people on wheels.
Maitri explains, “I had to go through a lot of inconvenience during my Engineering entrance exam. From wheelchair inaccessibility at the exam hall and unavailability of scribe that fits the prescribed requirements, to not securing a seat inspite of scoring the necessary marks to finally getting admission in my desired college. That’s when my brother and I had a conversation about using our experience to help others who may face a similar situation. Thus, Wills on Wheels was born!”
Suffering from a muscle degenerative disability called Spinal Cord Muscular Atrophy (SMA) type III by birth, Priti’s vision at 30 years of age is to make every person on wheels selfreliant. “It was easy for us, as birds of the same feathers flock together. Our core members are all wheelchair bounded with similar kind of genetic disorders. So to understand and explore the mission and vision of our foundation became easy.”
“Moreover,” says Priti, “anyone who wishes to be a part of this vision are welcome to join us, as we always need volunteers to help us work efficiently and make it an inclusive society.” Adds Maitri, “We are five people on wheelchairs and almost 20-25 volunteers.”
Some of the services that the foundation provides include:
• Travel Assistance
• Work From Home
WORK FROM HOME
If you are bored sitting at home but unable to find the right jobs and want to really have the will to do something for yourself, then W.O.W assists differently abled people in finding the jobs aligned to their skillsets, which can be performed from home.
TRAVELLING MADE EASY FOR PEOPLE ON WHEELS
W.O.W in association with Samartha Travels provides rent-a-car service for differently abled people.
You can now vent out your problems to a friend cum counselor from W.O.W
Moreover, they undertake awareness programmess in and around their vicinity; stage art exhibitions as well as take wheelchair bound friends for an outing. Priti says, “I strongly believe that, it is just a matter of showing my fellow friends the path towards independent life. Rest leave it on their wills on wheels to roll ☺.”
In a nutshell, Maitri along with her team at the foundation envision every person with physical disability to lead a dignified and a productive life.
“We have an online portal www.willsonwheels. in/ and a Facebook page Wills on Wheels giving info about various topics related to disability. We share inspirational stories on a regular basis and send a monthly newsletter to our subscribers. We have executed a few awareness programmes at public places and have been running the Mumbai Marathon for our cause”.
They recently arranged an art exhibition for the differently abled to display their talents and even put it up for sale. “I believe that technology can change lives and I am looking forward to use tech tools to ensure we reach our goals of a more disabled friendly inclusive society.”