Kirsten Sharp

The Only Failure is Failing to Try

These seven words in the title of my story are words that I keep close to my heart, ever since I fell asleep skiing at the age of 14 and broke my back, leaving me paralysed from the chest down. After six months of hospital and rehab, I re-entered highschool completely focused on my education, and leaving sport behind. I remained active with my friends, but was concerned that because I had no trunk muscles, my balance would be an issue for trying new things. I continued with social groups, and rep sports teams, but shied away from going back up the hill.

After re-connecting with a few peers that had similar levels of ability to myself, I conjured up the courage to head back up the hill. Connecting with someone with a similar level of ability taught me that the possibilities, which I thought were lost, were in fact endless. I tried skiing again and although it wasn’t my passion, it sparked a desire in me that allowed me to come alive. The inspiration was clear, anything I wanted to do, I could. I learned quickly that my largest hurdle would be overcoming the public's incorrect negative perception of those with a “disability”. Disability was a word that made me cringe just hearing it. This newfound discovery was something I needed to share with people around me in hopes of helping them to see the possibilities.

Throughout Highschool and University, I travelled the province as a motivational speaker in the education system, teaching the importance of inclusion, equality and goal setting. Today I continue to remain active in such sports as biking, swimming, outrigger canoeing, tennis and rowing. I have even tried activities such as climbing, whitewater rafting, hiking, and will do just about anything if I have the support to give it a shot. I hold a degree and a diploma in two fields that serve me well and allow me to work as a producer in the animation/video game/ and visual effects industry. I love my job and the creative outlet that it lets me fulfill. I think what we all must remember is that each one of us is different. Pride and self-fulfillment are two extremely important avenues to feeling good about oneself and accomplishing even the smallest of goals. For some, fulfillment comes from being part of a local community club, for others, it means winning a gold medal. My advice would be to find something you are passionate about, whether it be your career, a sport, volunteering, or a hobby.

Nothing is more important than getting out there and finding not only yourself, but what the world can offer. I continue my efforts today as a volunteer peer for the British Columbia Paraplegic Association (now SCI BC) and as an Ambassador for The Rick Hansen Foundation. My dedication lies in helping those newly injured, and the world around them, become and remain aware that there is nothing disabling about a disability.