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Inform issue 25 – Winter 2018

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In this issue of Inform we focus on new beginnings and changes. We follow the story of Joel who following a traumatic accident, had to start from scratch in his career.

Feature Physically he

Feature Physically he was at home, but mentally Joel was far away Then a fateful mistake 12 years ago turned his life on its head. While visiting the northern suburbs of Melbourne to see a friend, Joel made the splitsecond decision to step out onto the road from behind a tram, without realising that there was oncoming traffic on the other side. A fast-moving car collided with Joel, sending him flying onto the road and severing his spinal cord in the process. Following the accident Joel was left a paraplegic and unable to walk. After a relatively quick rehab journey where he was taught how to take care of himself again, he returned home to myriad of house modifications and changes to ensure that he could simply get in the front door. On the face of it, with these changes made and the duties of caring for his young daughters returning, it seemed life had resumed its fast pace in Joel’s household, and that ‘normality’ would soon set in again. For Joel, however, it felt as if time was standing still. So used to being on the go all the time, his life felt disrupted and directionless. Physically he was at home, but mentally Joel was far away. Joel recalls that early on he would spend his days sitting in his wheelchair staring out the front window, wondering what on earth was going to happen with his life now. Joel felt lost. He could no longer work in his much-loved active roles, and he was struggling to deal with the impact of what had happened to him. Just as Joel was beginning to lose all motivation, a close friend made a simple suggestion to him: “Well you talk all the time, why don’t you do that for a job? I know a place.” Thanks to this friend, Joel was linked up with a high school educational program aimed at educating young people about risk-taking and Above: Joel sharing his experience with a group of students. consequences. The role saw Joel visiting high schools and speaking to the students about his experience with his injury, and what he would do differently if he could turn back time. It only took a few presentations for Joel to feel as if he had found his place in the world again. He loved the way he felt after visiting a school he felt he could change lives and make a difference, simply by sharing his story. Fast forward a few years and Joel is a completely different man he is motivated, active and settled. No longer spending his days staring out a window, he has found a new lease on life and he attributes that to finding his passion in educating young people. Looking forward, Joel hopes that by sharing his story he can motivate others to tackle their own personal challenges, and not let one thing define who they are. By finding his new passion, Joel has found his way home again. And he couldn’t be happier. 10

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