My name is Shrey Kadian and I am an athlete leader with Special Olympics Bharat (India). We all know how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting everyone around the world, from the rich to the poor, and from the young to the old. I wanted to share with you about how this virus and the lockdown has affected people with intellectual disability like myself.
When I got to know that India will be locked down, I was firstly very worried about the safety of the public and the pressure it will have on the economy. I kept myself informed about the virus by watching the news and reading about it online so that I could share this information with family and friends.
Not being able to move out of our homes during this lockdown, has brought with it many challenges. Most of these challenges are faced by everyone, but some of them are even more difficult for someone like me with intellectual disability.
Before the lockdown, my daily routine included a lot of the regular things we all experience in our day-to-day lives, like going for a morning run, going to the office, going to college over the weekend and meeting my friends during my free time. However, since the lockdown, my routine has changed a lot as I cannot leave my house.
Just like everyone else, I too have adjusted to this new way of life. Nowadays instead of running outside, I do yoga and other fitness exercises at home. Most offices are closed, which means that now our meetings happen online using the zoom app, which is something new for me and took me a while to get used to. Besides not being able to go to the office, my college is also currently shut down and this has had a major impact on me personally. I enjoyed attending all my classes and personally interacting with my lecturers after class for some extra guidance. However, with this lockdown, it has become a lot more difficult for me to learn and get the feedback I required to keep growing.
I have faced and overcome many challenges in my life. This lockdown was no different. It took me a few days and some guidance to use zoom. Now I even conduct live training sessions for athletes and youth leaders for Special Olympics Bharat on it. My education has not stopped either. While my college was slow to move all our classes online, I used that time to learn more about my subjects through YouTube and the Special Olympics e-online coaching portal. I also reached out to my teachers, managers and mentors to help me along the way.
During my free time, which I used to previously spend with my friends playing cricket outside, I now use to help my parents with household work and focus on growing my own YouTube channel. I use this channel to inspire other people with intellectual disabilities to keep growing and achieving their dreams. Whether they are out in the world or staying safe at home, there is so much we can do to keep developing and be the best we can.
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the frontline workers around the world who are risking their own lives to keep us safe. From the doctors, nurses, policemen, delivery boys, farmers etc. we all salute you and hope that once this is over, you can be the ones staying at home while we do all the work to keep you safe.
This piece was first published by the Asian Development Bank Youth for Asia.