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Shane
Dunnett

New Brunswick, Canada

Shane lives with a spinal cord injury since year 1998. He has never allowed a disability to stop him and wants to share with others to "Take one day at a time. It can get better if you want it to."

"At the age of 22 I made a series of poor choices that lead to an accident which changed the course of my life. After a night partying with friends, heavily under the influence of alcohol, I leaned over a railing on a walking bridge.  Being under the influence, lack of judgement, lack of responsibility I leaned over too far and flipped over the rail falling 40ft onto a bedrock between railroad tracks.  A week later I woke from coma not knowing what had happened. The doctor told me I suffered a T12 spinal cord injury from a fall and I would never be able to walk again.

 

I didn’t know what to think. So many emotions where racing through me. I was mostly mad at myself for having such a lack of judgement that night. It wasn’t long that I took all accountability for my actions. I didn’t have a pity party. I wasn’t mad at the world. What have happened, happened. Only thing I wanted to do was move forward and live life. I still had goals and dreams. I was still the same person. With support from my family and friends and my natural positive attitude to take on challenge I was determined to make a life. Which I did. I'm completely independent, married for 17 years, father of two beautiful children. I have career in a public utility company for 20 years and counting. Great health, great family, and great friends. Life is grand! "

Shane says "My disability may have changed me physically, but it never changed who I was." and meeting other people who were physically challenged he saw made him feel like he has "no excuses"

Shane has always had a positive attitude and "Go big or go home" mentality. Sport was the main reason that helped him to achieve that. "Prior to being injured at 22 years old my sporting career was mainly pick up hockey and beer league softball.  All my competitive sports days were long over. Since I was injured, I've met a few people who introduced me to wheelchair basketball. From there I seen a whole new world that opened for me in the sporting world. I reached international level in adaptive sports and I'm still, 23 years, later playing sports at a competitive level.  Sport continues to be a major part of my life. I enjoy the physical and mental wellness it brings me. I also love the social aspect. Meeting new people, making lifelong friendships."

Shane is doing a lot to raise disability awareness. He used to give public speeches and adaptive sports demonstrations. He was visiting schools for education programs. When Covid took over it put a stop to volunteering. It was the time when Shane started with YouTube channel "ParaLife TV", because he felt that he needs to continue helping people.

When asked about what people should remember when talking to people with disabilities Shane says " I don’t think they should avoid or remember not to say something. Talk to me like I’m a male adult human being. If it’s an honest authentic person/conversation I’m open to answering any question a person has. let the person ask question about disabilities. If I can help a person understand and break down any stereotype, then that's a win!"

Shane also addresses a stereotype which assumes that people with disabilities can’t do “things”. " For example I use a wheelchair everyday to get around but I can walk with forearm crutches. There are times people will say to me “Well, you’re in a wheelchair we didn’t think you could walk” "

 

 

Shane says about living in Canada: "I appreciate that I live in a free country where I can travel freely and play adaptive sports. I appreciate the wonderful company I’ve worked for the past 20 years. Our country has good healthcare plans for people with disabilities. 

  I have not visited all the provinces so I can only speak mostly for (New Brunswick) has a come a long way in the past 20 years regarding accessibility but has a long way to go. New buildings and parks being built are becoming more accessible but not “fully accessible” There’s still work to be done in my part of Canada. "