From a polio patient to a bodybuilder

TRUE MOTIVATOR

From a polio patient to a bodybuilder

What is the one thing that comes to mind when we hear the word disabled? Dependant, incapable?

Despite the work done in the field, it is a fact of life that the disabled in our country still face discrimination due to their physical limitations but Joginder Singh Saluja is one person who has actively sought to change mindsets and attitudes by setting his own example.

A 10-month old baby when he was stricken by polio, Joginder had 14 operations by the time he turned 13. Bound to a wheelchair, he faced ridi­c­ule from his peer group and society while growing up.

But encouraged by his father (who himself suffers from locomotors disability post an accident) Joginder decided to fight the odds to become a weightlifter.

Today, he is an inspiration for thousands of disabled people for he has won the National Para Powerlifting Championship (Mr. India) seven times.

Joginder first hit the gym to reduce his stress levels, but little did he know that something else was in store. “I had joined to my reduce stress levels but people teased me and passed comments.”

But he persisted and went onto win awards as a weightlifter. He also owns his own gym called Workout Wonders in East Delhi and another one in Yojana Vihar. “Differently-abled people - from students to senior citizens, can work out for free in my gym while others have to pay a fee,” he shares.

This is not all. Despite his hectic schedule, Joginder takes out time to help others with disabilities. Every year, he visits DU around admission time and helps physically challenged students fill out forms. “I’ve been working with DU authorities to counsel disabled students who come to the varsity from all corners of the country.”

A graduate from Khalsa, Joginder shares that when he first visited DU he realised that it wasn’t disabled friendly. “I also observed that volunteers do not understand their needs correctly, so I decided to pitch in.” He has also been advising University Grants Commission on how to make the University more ‘disabled friendly.’ Hum dikhana chahte hain ke hum sirf lete nai hai, balki hum logo ko de bhi sakte hain.”
 
Currently, Joginder is in the process of preparing for the world championships for Mr Wheelchair but is upset that the government agencies do little to assist people such as him. “If you are a national champion for three years in the ‘abled’ category then you can get a job but I am still fighting for one.”

But all is not lost for he has been given recognition by other channels. Last seen as a guest on Satyamev Jayate with Aamir Khan Joginder remembers it “an experience of a lifetime. He is a true gem. He even inaugurated my second gym for free.”

Joginder has graduated in Humanities in 2008 and is the youngest of four siblings.
“My family has been my driving force all along. My father has truly encouraged me to reach where I am today.” From here on, there is only way to go and that is up.  

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