If you love the stories you find here on the CURE NATION blog, you’re not alone! It takes a strong team of community-focused friends to create these resources for you. That’s why we’re thrilled to introduce you to our newest contributor, Christine Selinger! Christine is based in Calgary, Canada and you’ll appreciate her sophisticated (dry) sense of Canadian humor.
You may recognize Christine from her world travels as a ParaCanoe champion, or from her coverage as a disability educator in leading magazines like New Mobility, or her ongoing work with the Abilities Expo. Below, you’ll learn more about Christine and the journey that brought her to our team.
We look forward to seeing more incredible interviews and articles here on the CURE NATION thanks to Christine and her fellow writer, Chad Waligura.
Christine Selinger Lives an “Interesting” Life After SCI
A friend once told me I should start a blog called “My Life is Interesting Sometimes” and I find that’s an accurate title for my life. In general, you could say my daily routine is less than thrilling. I get up each day and wander across the hall to my home office where I work all day then eat dinner and watch television with my husband.
When it comes time to write these kinds of things, however, it feels like my life has been far more exciting than the day-to-day would lead you to believe! I attribute that to the silver lining of what I do for my career and in my spare time as a nature lover.
I was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and sustained a spinal cord injury while rappelling outside of Savona, British Columbia, Canada in December of 2006 when I was 19 years old.
I was in my second year of a Bachelor of Education degree with aspirations of being a high school mathematics and English teacher. As I’m sure you’ve heard in many stories before, my spinal cord injury turned my life upside down.
Not necessarily in a bad way, it just upended all the plans I thought I had.
Following my injury, I took a semester off of school as I completed rehabilitation and went back to school the following September. Knowing that I would be spending longer to complete my degree than I had initially planned on, I changed to a double-degree program and completed my Bachelor of Science concurrently with my Bachelor of Education.Over the course of the following five years, I was extremely involved in the university community. I became President of two different student societies, was the Director of Events for a third, maintained a high grade-point average, worked almost full time, and became highly involved in parasport.
CHRISTINE DISCOVERS THE ADVENTURE OF PARACANOE
I wasn’t involved in sports at all before my injury, but that changed when I sustained my SCI. After my injury I found that sports were one of the best ways that I could get to know other people with disabilities.
I started out playing wheelchair tennis, even competing for Team Saskatchewan at the 2007 Canada Summer Games (just 8 months after my injury), but quickly discovered I was extremely terrible at any sport that involved a ball.
I became a competitive ParaCanoe (canoe and kayak) athlete, becoming the first female V1 World Champion in 2010 and winning a total of 10 International medals over the course of my four-year paddling career.
During my tenure as a paddler I was lucky to travel extensively. I paddled across Canada and in Poland, Hungary, and Brazil. Paddling also afforded me the chance to meet with some tremendous athletes from other countries, many of whom I remain in contact with. Though we didn’t always speak the same language, we would have animated conversations about our sport and our disabilities.
It gave me a broader perspective of myself and my identity as a person with a disability.
I’ve always loved the outdoors and I was initially concerned that my injury would limit my access to the backcountry. Luckily, my older sister Chelsea is an avid adventurer and climber. Her and I, with the help of a tremendous team of experts, planned and executed a 7-day hike across the Nootka Trail, a backcountry trail located on an island off the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
I crawled, biked, and piggy-backed across the 40km (24.8 mile) trail through mud, rocks, trees, and bugs. We camped out every night and carried all of our supplies with us for the week. It was exhausting and completely exhilarating.
We documented the story for a magazine called Our Canada, which came out in July of 2010.
CHRISTINE EDUCATES PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ON RELATIONSHIPS
After graduating from university, I moved to Toronto with my boyfriend Jerrod (who was doing his PhD at the University of Toronto) where I worked as an Instructional Designer with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.
In this role, I created online content aimed at helping people with new injuries learn about life after an injury. I also developed expertise in relationships and intimacy with a disability.
Thanks to my training in this area, I have led several workshops on behalf of various groups including United Spinal Association and the Abilities Expo to help educate on these topics, with the goal of improving relationships for people who have disabilities.Our six years living in Toronto were amazing. We absorbed all that the big city had to offer: eating every kind of cuisine, appearing on a couple of television shows, and staying up all night at every kind of festival you can imagine.
I married Jerrod in 2016, and he completed his PhD in 2017. Upon completion of his doctorate, he was hired by the University of Maine and we relocated to Bangor, Maine for a year.
CHRISTINE WORKS ACROSS THE U.S. AND CANADA FOR THE ABILITIES EXPO
It was in that year that I met with the Abilities Expo team and became their Director of Education and Events (meaning I organize the workshops and events that take place at the Abilities Expos). I’m tremendously lucky to be working with such a fabulous team of individuals.
Not only does my work give me a chance to travel to all the Expos, but I get to meet and learn from people with disabilities across the continent – and then pass that all on to the Expo attendees! Thankfully, it also introduced me to the CURE NATION.
Just a year after locating to Maine, Jerrod was offered and accepted a permanent position at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada so we relocated once again. We’re both thrilled to be in Calgary because it lands us really close to family and friends. I’m also really excited to be done moving back and forth across the continent (though I’m extremely grateful for all the friends and lessons we’ve gained from those adventures).
Being a part of the CURE NATION team gives me another opportunity to meet and get to know some pretty fabulous people with disabilities and I look forward to connecting with many of you. Thank you, Cure Medical!!
Stay tuned for more insightful stories from Christine. Be sure to connect with her on Facebook too.
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Founded by a quadriplegic, Cure Medical is the only catheter manufacturer in the world that donates the first 10% of its net income to support research programs in pursuit of a cure for urinary retention, paralysis, spinal cord injury and central nervous system disorders.
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