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Just over a year ago, I suffered a terrible injury that left me in constant pain and unable to work my physical job at the young age of 28. I build houses and in an unfortunate accident fell off scaffolding on to concrete in such a way that damaged my back and hip. 

It was determined I had bruising and contusions to my spine and pelvis, and that I could expect to heal in six weeks time. I participated in an intense physio program and saw various medical professionals to help repair the damage. Although my back started to feel better, my hip just kept getting worse no matter what I did. 

Once I completed the program, I was told I could go back to work, but even walking was incredibly painful. I was frustrated and found myself becoming more isolated and depressed. I went from working 7-12-hour days and snowboarding a ton with my boyfriend to doing absolutely nothing stuck at home alone. No matter how hard I worked on my healing, my hip kept getting progressively worse. Some days the act of getting out of bed was excruciating and I ended up using crutches for most of the year after the accident.

Determined to work through the pain, I joined the Kelowna Family Y as they had specialty equipment I needed for my physio exercises. I was set on rehabilitating quickly and getting back to doing what I love — building houses and snowboarding. 

At first, I had a lot of anxiety coming in. I had previously experienced anxiety, but it got worse after my injury. I kept my head down at the gym and just focused on my physio. Anyone that’s been to the Y can speak to how warm and welcoming the people are, and this environment helped my anxiety slowly fade away. I was never treated like a had a disability.

Eventually I started connecting with other members and making friends who encouraged me to try the Gentle Aqua and Gentle Yoga classes. After some recommendations from the staff and other members, I also joined the Y’s Healthy Hips and Knees program.

The determination of the participants in this program and the Aqua classes really inspired me to keep working on my healing. These people were suffering too but showed up consistently and their stories were incredible. 

My love for Aquafit grew so quickly that one of the supervisors, Michelle, motivated me to get more involved by becoming a volunteer fitness instructor. Surprisingly, I started teaching Aquafit to large classes when I had just been so shy and anxious when I joined the Y two months prior! Even though I was in pain, it was great for my rehabilitation and I loved the energy I got from teaching this amazing group of people.

The YMCA of Okanagan not only helped with my healing, but it also pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me tackle my anxiety. I’ve even made friends and joined groups outside of the Y that I’m loving but would have been too intimidated by beforehand. 

Prior to my injury, I’d never been to a fitness centre as I thought my physical job was enough. Now I know I will stick with it forever, and truly believe everyone should make it a habit. Regular exercise really does help you become stronger to improve your performance in the workplace.

Finally, after months of unexplained pain, a specialist determined I was suffering from torn cartilage in my hip. I was thrilled to finally have an answer and to know my pain wouldn’t be a chronic condition. I was scheduled to receive hip surgery and couldn’t wait to get back to living my normal life.

Now I am happy to say I’m well on my way to fully healing. I feel so lucky to have had my surgery and felt immensely better the very next day! I no longer need my crutches and I’m excited to attempt more intense fitness classes, and possibly teach them as well. 

Without the Y I don’t think my physical healing would be this far along. I also wouldn’t have gained the passion for fitness that I developed within these walls. This last year had the potential to be a very dark time in my life, but the Y gave me a place to connect with others, find inspiration, face my anxiety straight on, and develop friendships. It truly provided a bit of light in my days and made me a stronger, more confidant person. 

The Y truly is a community of people who care. The organization helps so many people in our community and I’m thankful to be a part of such a caring organization. For donors who help people access the Y when they need it the most, thank you. Anyone could end up in a situation like mine or a particular dark time in their life — and no one deserves to face that alone.