I was injured over 20 years ago, so I’m a lifer. You get to a point after your injury when you realize, “Hey, I’m going to be like this for a long time. ” I knew the best way to move on with things was to talk to other people with spinal cord injury—SCI BC helped me do that. If you talk to a peer, they’re usually a bit older and wiser. They’re the ones who will show you how to do things like transfer, or give you advice about what clothes to wear, or tell you how you can travel.
Now that I’m a little older I think back on everything and believe we need to give back—that’s why I’m a monthly donor. SCI BC has always been there for me and it’s really important to make sure this continues for younger people.
My life changed so much after my injury. I was living on Salt Spring Island when I was injured, so I was cut off from a lot of things when I returned after rehab. I was always drawn to SCI BC and this peer network because I wanted to stay connected. I saw what the peer counsellors, Scott and Bert were doing in their community over in Victoria and Nanaimo and there were a lot of fun peer groups happening. Everybody knew those two and you could see the impact they were making.
Over time I started to get more involved and I learned that SCI BC had a Board of Directors. I thought it would be another great opportunity to learn from a group of smart people, in the same way I learned from peers when I was first injured. I decided to apply and served on the Board for 16 years. We were always on the cutting edge of SCI and gave our input in research that was happening throughout BC and helped guide programming.
I look at where SCI BC has gone with the younger generation and I see a lot of opportunities. There are sports and hiking, you can go up to Whistler, you can get The Spin magazine and learn about research and so much more. Some people with an SCI sort of lock themselves away but they still read The Spin or go online and can stay connected. It’s a community where we’re all in this together through our whole lives so I think it’s important that we help out wherever we can. We do it for the young people because we know what it was like when we were first injured.