Tuesday, June 11, 2013

TED on Tuesday: Janine Shepherd: From Paraplegic to Pilot

Australian speakers seem to be few and far between on TED, so I was particularly pleased to watch this talk by the former cross-country skier, Janine Shepherd.

Janine was aiming for an Olympic medal―until she was hit by a truck during a training bike ride through the Blue Mountains (60-90 minutes from Sydney). Shephard’s doctors did not expect her to survive, and when she did, they warned her that she would never walk again. But she not only learned to walk again―she learned to fly.

Janine focused intently for years on healing both her broken body and crushed morale. A turning point came watching small planes flying overhead. She decided: “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly.” While still in a full body cast, Janine was lifted into an aircraft for her first flight. Within a year she had her private pilot’s license. Later, she earned her commercial pilots license and instructor’s rating. Janine recently served on the board of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and became its youngest­―and only―female director.

Despite being a walking paraplegic, Janine Shepherd is also a pilot and aerobatics instructor, as well as a powerful motivational speaker and author. In this TED talk she shares her inspirational story about the human potential for recovery. Her message: you are not your body, and giving up old dreams can allow new ones to soar.

Today, Janine is the patron of the Australasian Spinal Research Trust and is committed to helping find a cure for spinal cord injury in the near future. In the meantime, she seeks to inspire those coping with physical disability. She is the author of five books, including Never Tell Me Never. And while doctors told her after her accident that she would never have children, she now is a mother of three.

This 19 minute TED talk was first posted in November 2012.

“It [doesn't matter] what you look like, where you come from, or what you do for a living. All that matters is that we continue to fan the flame of humanity by living our lives as the ultimate creative expression of who we really are.” ~ Janine Shepherd

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