With Giving Tuesday just around the corner, we're sharing Voices of Hope with you - an opportunity to hear directly from the people who have been supported by Sign of Hope funded programs. Here's Amanda's story, in her own words.
Growing up I was always moving. Starting in sports like ringette at age four, moving through things like baseball, acting, modelling, basketball, snowboarding, to hockey at age 12.
I was always active.
Imagine for a second you’re driving back home from shopping with 2 friends. You come to an uncontrolled intersection on a country road. You get about half way through, and your little Hyundai Elantra is hit by a ¾ ton pick up truck.
You end up 150 feet into the farmer’s field. From there, you’re transported by ground ambulance to Red Deer Regional Hospital, where your family would see you only for a moment before STARS arrived.
I was only 16 when this happened to me. I received the most severe injuries out of the three of us, and spent the next month of my life in a coma, 13 months in various hospitals, and acquired a severe brain injury and broken right cheekbone.
I lost a good portion of my life’s memories and almost all my memories from my hospital stays. I didn’t have the cognitive ability to realize the life I lived before was done, that the person I was before was gone. This was hard to accept – it’s hard to accept that I needed to start from scratch. There was confusion over missing things, activities and people that I had to be told that I liked or that I knew.
The thing that helped me navigate and create my new life was Catholic Social Services (CSS). I had my first meeting with them in the hospital. After my 13 month stay in various hospitals, I began working with a CSS Disability Support Worker, Michelle. She started by reintroducing me to the world and getting me physically moving. We would go for walks a lot of the time, to the grocery store, coffee shops or just around town. She helped me create a resume and obtain my first job after the accident, helped me look for apartments when I was moving, and supported me through applying to Red Deer College where I am now a student.
Without Michelle, and therefore without CSS, I wouldn’t have mentally recovered so quickly. The anxiety and depression that comes with a traumatic brain injury gravely worsens by self isolation. Therefore having Michelle there to encourage me to engage with the world again was necessary. She was there to support me and to ensure my safety throughout my exploration of this new world. Catholic Social Services was there to support me in creating a beautiful life when my old life was wiped away after a motor vehicle accident.