On February 20th, I was invited back to UOP to speak to another class of the physical therapy students. I’ve been in physical therapy for the last 17 years and prior to that was a huge fan of their work as a college Soccer player pursuing a career as a professional Soccer player.
I arrived around 10:30AM to the University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. Professor Davenport greeted my mom, niece and I in the lobby. He let me know one class was just wrapping up but we could start promptly at 11AM. We entered the classroom and Professor Davenport pushed back a collapsible wall to allow two classrooms to attend the lecture. With close to 70 students in attendance it was easily one of the largest group I’d presented to.
I spoke for about 40 minutes before we opened it up to questions. I shared my introduction to the Disability Community. I talked about my personal experience with physical therapist beginning at 19. About a month after my spinal injury from a snowboarding accident I was introduced to my first physical therapist. I was fortunate enough to attend Santa Clara Valley Medical for my physical therapy initially. The SCVM rehab had a great reputation for their rehab services. The physical therapist there taught me how to do everything from transfer from my wheelchair into a car to brushing my teeth to directing others how to move my body safely for both involved. It was an incredibly emotional and challenging time in my life but I’m happy now to be able to share my experiences with the students so that they can better serve their clients.
The students questions covered everything from what is the hardest part about paralysis to what is the greatest tip for getting a client from a wheelchair to walking. And for that there is no easy answer except continuous love support and motivation. However, at the end of the day I wanted to really drive home that the world needs all abilities. That injury illness and aging are all a natural and normal part of life. That the most important part is not how strong we are physically or how intelligent we are but how adaptable we are. I shared with the class
a Charles Darwin quote on adaptability. I do hope that by example I am able to show the students and others that we are incredibly resilient and adaptable in the face of adversity. At every ability level the American Dream is accessible.