I was delighted to have been asked to give the opening address at the National Critical Care Nursing Conference on the 26th of September in the Clayton Hotel, Galway. I received such a warm and kind welcome from both nurses and doctors alike during my 8.30am slot.
I spoke about my achievements to date as a person with a life changing injury. I spoke about how I set up an online community for people who have spinal cord injuries – writing about my struggles and supporting others going through the same. This subsequently opened up several avenues for me. I have had many of my blogs published by the Irish newspapers – Irish Time, Daily Mail, Sligo Weekender to name a few. I was the Keynote Speaker at the first Plenary session of the European Seating Symposium, Trinity College Dublin, my talk entitled “see the person not the disability”. I was a Keynote speaker at the “Inspiration Series”, IT Sligo celebrating the “Power of sport to Inspire” alongside Packie Bonnar 2017.
I recorded a series this year with RTE. It is about people who have suffered trauma in their lives but have found the inner strength to take stock and rediscover a new sense of purpose. I go around the country as a speaker at events for inspiring young people in schools, etc using sport as a form of rehabilitation both mentally and physically. I was awarded 10,000euro as part of a European courageous citizen grant last year to develop this project. I was also nominated JCI, national young person of the Year 2017. I am a strong advocate for people with disabilities in Ireland having worked on several projects and presentations with Mayo County Library, Healthy living Ireland, Mayo Foróige Youth Club, Road Safety Authorities Ireland, Rotary Club’s, Disability charity Scope, Spinal Injuries Ireland, CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre Ltd.
I talked about my progression each year with something more that I can do for myself. I’ve just recently learned to drive my own adapted car which feels great. I also qualified as an Special Needs Assistant this June.
I feel reducing unnecessary labels and stigma is important as is reducing misinformation around people living with a disability while always remembering to maintain the persons privacy and anonymity.