Spreading the message
I had a car accident when aged six. I think I crossed a road without looking. I was hit by a car. One little decision changed my life forever. I had very bad injuries. I would not be able to walk or even breathe again without help. The accident also had a huge impact on other people. I now give talks about spinal cord injury. I want to help stop other accidents in future. I also want to give hope to people. I want to show that people with a disability can live full lives.
Posted by: Anthony Bartl, on 18/02/11
I want to present a message of hope
You have probably all seen those heart-wrenching, emotionally-charged TAC (Transport Accident Commission) television advertisements. They have been a staple of our screens for over 20 years. They typically show a scene of dangerous driving. Then there is the result of a rash decision. It is usually the ensuing accident’s aftermath, including distraught relatives. Finally there is a stark message. The message is: this could happen to you.
One particular TAC advertisement sticks in my mind. It is the one that beamed on our TV screens about five years ago about 40kph school zone speed limits. A school child runs obliviously across a road to chase a wayward ball. Then everything surrounding the child and ball disappears. It infers the child has eyes only for the ball.
Why does this advertisement resonate? It is because it is remarkably similar to what happened to me.
I had a life-changing car accident when aged six. I was walking home from school one warm November afternoon in 1986. I can only guess that I crossed a busy suburban road without looking. I can only guess because there were no witnesses. I also cannot recall anything prior to the car’s impact. Presumably I was on my way to a friend’s house and was in a hurry to get there. Presumably I did not look for cars as I crossed.
This one little decision changed my life forever. I received a lacerated liver, a kidney so badly damaged it had to be removed, and had massive internal bleeding. Most significantly, I also received a C1 spinal injury. The accident meant I would not be able to walk or breathe unassisted again for the rest of my life.
Of course, I was not the only one affected. The accident had a huge impact on my family. It also affected the driver and ambulance paramedics.
Help prevent similar accidents
I now give talks to school students on spinal cord injury. I hope to help prevent similar accidents. I would not want any other person to endure the emotional and physical horror that I suffered.
I want to communicate a message of risk avoidance. I want to encourage kids to think instead of behaving carelessly.
Message of hope
I also want to present a message of hope. I want to show people that if they do acquire a disability, they can still live full lives. I think I am a good example of what can be achieved. I have a university degree. I also enjoy a wide range of work and recreational activities.
When I explain how I sustained my disability and how it affects me, people are often amazed at what I have achieved. Some say I am “an inspiration”. Others say that their own problems suddenly seem minor. These kind of reactions are very encouraging. They make me want to keep giving the talks and sharing my story.
What have been some of your experiences when sharing your personal story with others? And what split-second decisions have you made that changed your life forever? Let us know in the comments section below.
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