Janine Shepherd AM: The Hills
Please note – This is a portion of the blog interview. To read the full blog and others, please join The Dignity project Community Hub
We are excited and honoured this week to be joined by a very special guest Janine Shepherd AM, who has also contributed a video-based blog as part of Disability Action Week.
Disability Action Week is held annually in September to raise awareness of issues that are important to the disability community, acknowledge the important and varied contributions of people with disability, and improve access and inclusion throughout Queensland. This is an important campaign for the Dignity Project and Dignity Ambassadors at the Hopkins Centre, who strive to embed and prioritise the perspectives of people with disability in all that we do.
Janine Shepherd is a best-selling Australian author of six books, an aerobatics pilot, international keynote speaker, motivational and resilience educator and coach. She is a recipient of an Order of Australia Medal, is an ambassador for Spinal Cure Australia and was the host of a highly acclaimed TEDx Talk: A broken body isn’t a broken person. With a background in counselling and psychology, Janine is also a researcher, who is a PhD candidate working on resilience and disability.
Dignity has a deep and very personal, intrinsic meaning for Janine. “Just the fact that we're human beings… and that became a real challenge for me, because I'd always been someone, as an athlete, who presented myself to the world in a physical sense. I knew that I looked very strong, and that – I felt, was my power. And when I got home from hospital in a wheelchair, I'd lost so much weight, I couldn't walk… I think my sense of who I was, my sense of self, became damaged, and my whole identity also around disability… there was a lot of stigma around that at the time. I remember one occasion where I was sitting outside the spinal ward, and people would come in to visit... and nobody walked up to me, or actually acknowledged or talked to me... it was my first experience of there's something wrong with me… and it was a very painful experience.”
“I was told that I'll never be able to do the things I did before, and you could say I hit rock bottom. That's when the remarkable part of my story came – because when I was at home in a wheelchair, an airplane flew over and I remember looking up and thinking... well if I can't walk, then maybe I can fly. And fast forward – I was lifted up into an airplane and went on to become a private pilot, a commercial pilot, aerobatics flying instructor, and had children, and wrote books, and yeah... so that's the elevator pitch of my story.”
‘I think it’s really important to understand, that it doesn't matter what disability you might have, whether it's physical… visible or not – you have value, you have worth, you are loved! I think it’s really important to remind ourselves of that. What really shifted everything for me, was when I got home [and] thought all of the life that I'd worked for, was gone! When I decided to learn to fly, that changed everything for me. It gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. So, for anyone out there, that perhaps is in a situation where they're not able to do the things that they did before – there is always a possibility of a very different life – but not a lesser life. It can be an extraordinary life!’
Connect with Janine on the links below:
Watch Janine's TEDx Talk: A broken body isn’t a broken person
Janine Shepherd Video & Transcript
Guest: Janine Shepherd AM (JS)
Interviewer: Kelsey Chapman, Dignity Project Research Lead (KC)
Watch Janine’s Dignity Project Interview on the link below or via YouTube (Captions available and Transcript following): https://youtu.be/x8Qfy4dmF8M
To read the rest of this blog and others in full, visit The Dignity Project and join the Community Hub, by clicking the button that says "Join the Community Hub": http://www.hopkinscentre.edu.au/the-dignity-project