Okanagan documentary sheds light on living with spinal cord injuries

Film tells story of man learning to live fulfilling life in a wheelchair

Kelowna filmmaker Chelsea McEvoy described her new project Re-Inventing the Wheel in three words: real, raw, and vulnerable.

The movie follows a recent paraplegic and his family’s journey to adapt to a new way of life after an accident. It's central theme, according to McEvoy, is all about peer support.

“It’s just relying on your peers who’ve done it, who’ve been there, and can show you the ropes and relate to you,” she said. “We all need to find our community that we can rely on and relate to.”

Eight years ago, McEvoy had a vision to make a movie focusing on the journey of people with spinal cord injuries. She waited a while to finally tell the story after she met her partner, James Hektner, who suffered a spinal injury 25 years ago.

“I had a bit more knowledge now of what life in a wheelchair was like. I think it was better that we made it now instead of eight years ago when I had no idea about spinal cord injuries or what it entailed,” she said.

Hektner, who serves as the president of Accessible Okanagan, which promotes wheelchair activity, told Kelowna10 having these supports for paraplegics goes a long way.

“There’s just a commonality that seems to encourage or enlighten or create an energy that comes with others,” he said. “When you’re hanging out with others in chairs and overcoming some big challenges, it’s pretty cool to do that with others and have a sense of accomplishment.”

Hektner’s message for those facing similar challenges is to get out and get connected with those communities sooner than later.

“It is so encouraging and enlightening to surround yourself with likeminded and common people going though similar challenges,” he said.

Re-Inventing the Wheel has received awards at film festivals in New York, Cincinnati, and Toronto, and while her team already has a potential follow-up idea, McEvoy is focused on getting the movie out to the right people.

“We just wanted to get the film out there into rehab facilities, clinicians, and peers, to get it out to the world that yes, a spinal cord injury sucks, being in a wheelchair sometimes sucks, but you can also have fun and life isn’t over, it’s just the beginning,” McEvoy said.

The movie is out now on Vimeo to rent or purchase. More information can be found on their Facebook.

Published 2021-12-22 by Connor Chan

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