Summer school students learn about SafeStart

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A man who was paralyzed from the neck down in a skiing accident advised students to avoid the pitfalls that lead to injuries.

Mike Shaw, 30, a Canadian freestyle skier from Vernon, B.C., told students that doctors said he would never walk again following his accident. He had surgery to install two titanium rods and 10 screws in his spine.

An atrium at Bellerose Composite High school was full of about 100 summer school students last Monday as they listened to Shaw talk about how he became a representative for SafeStart. It was the story of his accident that got students emotional as he showed footage of his recovery from start to end during his presentation.

SafeStart started in 1998 as a safety training process created by Larry Wilson. Presentation in schools began five years ago as the first was held in Fort McMurray to inform students of the importance of safety and change the way they look at risk. It has prevented injuries all around the world, as this safety training is available in over 32 languages in more than 60 countries.

Shaw said the risk of injury is increased by critical errors such as rushing, frustration, fatigue or complacency. Shaw doesn’t believe the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. He also said it isn’t good enough to just tell children to be careful.

“The whole idea is to prevent injuries from happening to kids when they’re young,” says Shaw.

After the presentation, students approached Shaw with their own personal stories and what they took away from the presentation.

“I will be a lot more careful and just more aware, awareness is a big thing,” says high school student Naomi Lauman.

Shaw works hard physically to maintain strength, flexibility and mobility to make his day-to-day life easier. He participates annually in the Wings for Life World Run created by RedBull to create awareness of spinal cord injury.

Shaw’s experience is displayed in a mini documentary on RedBull TV called The Healing Agent and a Ted Talk done in British Colombia that can be found online.

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