A chance meeting with Vernon’s Sonja Gaudet turned around Scott James’ life.
James, as a teenager, was paralyzed on Oct. 14, 2000 in Prince Rupert after his hand slipped while doing a hand stand on a set of monkey bars.
“The next few years were the hardest of my life,” said James, now a Vernon resident and the program coordinator for Spinal Cord Injury B.C. (SCI-BC) in the Okanagan.
“The physical struggle took at least two years to get over; I did not know that the mental battle would take much longer. Dealing with loss was overwhelming, not only the physical loss, but the harder loss of confidence, dignity, and independence.”
It was Gaudet – paralyzed herself from an equestrian accident – who got James to go to a wheelchair tennis match, which is where he met SCI-BC Okanagan representative James Hektner. It was Hektner who convinced James to join him and four others at a weekly coffee group.
“That opened up so many opportunities for me, most of all the chance to converse with people who were dealing with the same things I was,” he said.
“Since then I have tried many sports, including downhill skiing, cross country skiing, sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair curling, water skiing, target shooting, and best of all, wheelchair rugby. Through these endeavors, peer mentorship has also given me the confidence to travel again, not only all over B.C., including Haida Gwaii, but also Las Vegas.”
To further reduce barriers and make services and resources more easily accessible for people with disabilities, the province is providing the B.C. Spinal Cord Injury Community Services Network (BC SCI Network) with $5 million to enhance their services for British Columbians with a physical disability.
The work of the B.C. SCI Network aligns with the vision of Accessibility 2024 to make B.C. the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities.
”The B.C. SCI Network is a strong supporter of Accessibility 2024,” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.
“Their work to date, and the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation work they will be able to continue to do with this new funding, will ensure more British Columbians who are living with a disability are not only physically and mentally healthy, but are able to find housing, find work, and become fully active participants in their communities.”
The funding will help support the growth and efficiency of the Network over the next five years, including:
* Providing supports and services to more individuals with physical disabilities throughout
* Promoting and updating education and information resources covering all aspects of
living with a physical disability, including housing, finding employment, and physical and
* Increasing services to enhance active living and community participation.
* Promoting best practices in care and support.
* And developing and providing assistive and adaptive technologies.