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Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week "Think I Can't, Think Again!"

25 November, 2015

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (SCIAW), held from 8th – 15th of November 2015, is a national campaign coordinated by the Spinal Cord Alliance. The focus of the campaign for 2015 was ‘Think I Can’t, Think Again!, promoting social inclusion and accessibility in the community; highlighting the diverse and full lives people with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) can lead. 

As part of this year’s national campaign, Spire in conjunction with the Lake View Hotel in Ballarat and Il Pom Italian Restaurant at Federation Square transformed the eating areas into a sea of wheelchairs, asking patrons to 'take a seat and change their point of view'. Spire temporarily fixed cardboard wheels to a large portion of the chairs which were used by the general public when dining with friends and family.

The wheels were also accompanied by tabletop flyers and posters scattered around the restaurants, sporting Spire’s four SCIAW Ambassadors; Pradeep Hewavitharana, Selena Stewart, Mario D’Cruz and Dave Jacka.

Through this initiative, we asked people to think about how their community and wider society could be made to be more inclusive and accessible for people living with this life-long disability. Each ambassador, all also peer-support volunteers of Spire, enthusiastically supported the campaign, along with their own individual messages:

'My hobby is cooking! Being able to cook and provide for my two children gives me both independence and great enjoyment!' Pradeep Hewavitharana

I’ve enjoyed every minute of motherhood so far. The wheelchair hasn’t really been a factor at all. There are far more challenging things than ‘mothering’ from a wheelchair' Selena Stewart

'I see life as an adventure. I love challenging myself with new experiences and seeing what I’m capable of' Dave Jacka

'Being a complete quadriplegic and medical practitioner, I am both consumer and provider of health information in the SCI space. I work as a doctor, tutor & public speaker. I’m also involved in mentoring peers with recent SCI...' Mario D’Cruz

With both lunch venues bustling with enthusiastic attendance from a number of Spire staff, peer volunteers and friends and family, it was clear the week is relevant not only to people living with a SCI but also their families, friends and the broader community. Discussions focused around the challenges of living with a SCI, individual achievements as well as general conversation around shared interests and passions.

Watch Warren and Naz give a recap of the Ballarat event. 

Spire’s team leader, Naz Erdem supported this campaign beyond SCIAW by speaking to high school students at Our Lady of Mercy College during their Sports Awards Night. Students listened intently to the insightful information Naz shared about living with a SCI through his personal experiences and triumphs, as well as to being part of the Australian wheelchair rugby team.

Additionally, Gillian Fowler, founder of BackStrong Adventures and one of Spire’s talented bloggers also wrote a piece about her recent kayaking adventure in Croatia, encompassing the SCIAW message of ‘Think I Can’t, Think Again’. Gillian proudly uses her story of SCI to encourage others around the world to follow their dreams, to achieve personal goals and to make lasting memories. View Gillian's blog post here

Spire would like to thank the Lake View Hotel, Il Pom and the many volunteers, friends and family that contributed their time, support and involvement in what Spire sees as an important and worthwhile campaign. We would also like to thank Federation Square for showing the Spire TVC thousands of times on the various screens around the site, in the weeks leading up to and throughout SCIAW.

For more information on Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week and the national ‘Think I Can’t, Think Again' campaign message visit: www.sciaw.com.au

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