A talented sportsman, a teacher-aid, a music & comedy lover and an engaging member of our community – these are all ways in which we would describe Dan. He is a vibrant, positive young man who has recently relocated to Brisbane and can be seen making the most of his youth in Teneriffe.
“I’m 35 years old. I’m really into live music and I just recently started playing wheelchair rugby now that I live in Brisbane – so I’m really enjoying that. I do gym a couple of times a week and pretty much just get out in the community. I like to be around people so I try to get out and about as much as I can.”
Dan is also living with a disability after an accident at the age of 18 that resulted in C6 Quadriplegia. This spinal injury left him paralysed from the chest down and forced to adapt to drastically different circumstances, at such a young age. This reality is far too common.
Following his accident, Dan experienced a huge life adjustment as he moved into a granny flat on the side of his parent’s house. A quiet, stagnant life which was not providing him the opportunities he craved and deserved:
“I had been there forever; I was an apprentice builder before my accident and the community there helped to raise some money for a granny flat on the side of my Mum and Dad’s house. We lived on a big hill, so I was stuck there a lot of the time.”
While his family had adjusted and adapted to supporting Dan’s injury, as he grew up it became vital for him to search for independent living. The strain of living in such close proximity had begun impacting his relationship with his parents, so he knew it was time to take matters into his own hands. With his sister and his niece living nearby, and his parents making plans to eventually relocate to Southeast Queensland, Brisbane was the place to be:
“I knew it was time to make something happen because we are an incredibly close family, but we needed Youngcare’s help to make the transition to living independently smoother by easing the financial burden. I had been trying to get to Brisbane for a little bit. I just had to get here for the opportunities, while I’m still young enough to do it.”
He has quickly become a valuable member of his new community, with his charismatic and friendly character helping him successfully integrate into Newstead life:
“It’s right in the centre of everything and it has really good access. It’s nice and flat and it’s a really good community – our building has a Facebook group and they do little get togethers, such as trivia and a dog meet up the other day, which is pretty cool. I went down and said hello to everyone’s dogs – it really is a great neighbourhood.”
It can be quite overwhelming to move out of home, let alone whilst living with a disability, so Dan was extremely appreciative of the help he received from Youngcare to make the move possible:
“It was the first time for me moving out of home, living by myself and living away from my family - it was quite daunting. So to have the help from Youngcare was really helpful.”
With the help of a Home Support Grant, funded by our generous donors and supporters, Dan was able to purchase necessary items for his apartment and move safely into his new home.
“It was amazing. I got a washing machine and a dryer with your help. Another massive thing was Youngcare arranging a moving truck for me. Being 6 hours away, I wouldn’t have been able to bring much by myself. It helped immensely as it meant another thing that I didn’t have to worry about.
It also made the transition so much smoother by helping me settle in and have things that are reliable and safe. It came at such a good time and I’m really appreciative of it. This is such a great opportunity and initiative, not just for myself, but for so many others with disabilities too.”
As a young man with a bright future ahead of him, Dan approaches life with an open mind and a willingness to share his story and educate people on what it is like to live with a disability:
“To have a choice over your living circumstances is really invigorating - it gives you control over your life. There’s a misconception that people living with disabilities cannot live by themselves. They don’t realise we’re a pretty resilient bunch and we just figure it out.”
While everything Dan has accomplished so far has been due to his perseverance, determination and support from those around him, he was extremely grateful for the assistance of Youngcare and what it has enabled him to do:
“The move has been life-changing – my mental and physical health have been so much better. I’ve always been positive and upbeat, but I was just existing back home. I had my interests, but I was just sort of hanging around. I was stagnant at the time and now I’m jumping into everything. It gets scary because you’re jumping in the deep end but that’s why you do these things - to get out of your comfort zone.
Because of Youngcare I can now live independently and start a fresh, exciting chapter in my life. Hopefully it’s onwards and upwards to bigger and better things for me. It’s been amazing being independent and starting life again.”
Dan would like to thank each and every one of you that made this grant possible. To our generous supporters:
“I can’t thank you enough really; no words could do it justice. Hopefully companies and people continue to donate their money and help out such a good cause. I also hope that more and more stories like mine get out there to encourage people to continue supporting Youngcare, to enable other people with disabilities lives to change also.”