Overcoming injury with community


WEB Size BC SCI kayakingCROP.jpgA spinal cord injury often means living with things that are out of your reach.

A jar on a shelf, an elevator button, a shop. Activities you used to enjoy, too, are suddenly not options anymore, like hiking or swimming.

But, with the right help, some or even all of those things can be put back within reach.

A United Way-funded spinal cord injury organization arranged a series of events last year to support those with spinal cord injuries and their caregivers. One of those activities was an adapted kayaking excursion on Westwood Lake in Nanaimo.

For Sarah, a senior with an incomplete spinal cord injury and paralysis in one hand, the day offered more than a thrill – it offered equality.

First to sign up for the event and last off the lake, Sarah was quick to share her gratitude:

“This experience allowed me to reclaim a sense of capacity I had long since let go. The sense of freedom, 'normalcy' and inclusion was awesome.

“I admit that on the way there I was overwhelmed by the longing for this kind of event and its possibility. On the way home I was flooded with gratitude for the experience.

“Physical capacity to glide across the water, be in equality to others on the water, moving through and engaging the natural world . . . all these experiential and tangible things are so important to mental, physical and emotional health. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

Sarah made sure to note that she would be there for any other events the organization could put together. But of course, things have changed since then.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, those of us with complicating health issues have been asked to self-isolate for extended periods of time. Spinal cord injury can often mean damaged respiratory systems, complex medical conditions, and a reliance on a variety of caregivers.

But, with funding from United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island, this organization has adapted to provide virtual activities and support allowing their clients to continue to receive important services, like the ones that changed Sarah's life.

United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island directed funding to this organization’s activities program through the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund. But support from United Way means more than funding – we provide community development, communications and administrative support, research, expertise and real partnership to make these programs as impactful as possible.

Your generosity is what keeps neighbours connected, and communities strong.