These Para-Athlete Polio Survivors Urge Parents to Vaccinate Kids

These Para-Athlete Polio Survivors Urge Parents to Vaccinate Kids

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Meet Pradeep and Suvarna Raj – parents, para-athletes, polio survivors.

Both Pradeep and Suvarna were young when they succumbed to polio. Back then, India had little to no accessibility for the differently abled. Pradeep and Suvarna faced considerable challenges – from going to school to doing everyday things like watching a movie or going out with friends. But they persevered.

This World Polio Day, they have a message for you.

Sports was always an intrinsic part of both of their lives.

Pradeep recounts how sports like cricket and table tennis helped strengthen him, and helped him get rid of his crutches.

Suvarna, too, was an avid sportsperson in boarding school, with a passion for powerlifting. In fact, they met at a National Championship in 2006, and their connection was instant. They’ve been together ever since.

Today, both Pradeep and Suvarna are international para-athletes. A former table tennis medalist, Pradeep runs the Para Sports Foundation to support other para-athletes and is also a vocal disability rights activist.

Suvarna discovered her love for table tennis after her marriage to Pradeep, and has since gone on to win several international medals for the sport. Her next goal is the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, where she wants to participate in Athletics.

Pradeep and Suvarna are vocal advocates for vaccination.

It gives me great pleasure to hear that India is today polio-free. I urge parents to not stop immunizing their children against polio, and the range of other infectious diseases. Let no child go through what we’ve been through.
Suvarna

In 2014, the Government of India introduced the Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV) to strengthen children’s immune systems and provide further protection from polio.

(This story has been published in collaboration with Global Health Strategies. 24 October 2018 is observed as World Polio Day to raise awareness about the disease and address the importance of vaccination.)

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