Sean Fowler is living proof that mistakes made as a teenager can haunt the rest of one’s life.
As teenagers, he and his friends regularly climbed through moving trains in Fort Erie, Ont., saving themselves precious minutes on their way home from school.
But one day, when Fowler was 16, his backpack got caught and the budding skateboarder was dragged under the wheels of the monstrous machine, severing his left arm and leg.
He survived, and today spends his time sharing his tale with high school students, reminding them to know their stupid line – and not cross it.
On Wednesday he paid a visit to Hammarskjold High School, where students sat in silence listening to his story and that of Kyrstle Shewchuk, who was paralyzed from the waist down at 13, a victim of not wearing her seatbelt properly, the driver of the car she was in not signalling properly and another driver distracted while on his cell phone.
“It’s been a difficult journey,” said Fowler, who brought Parachute Canada’s No Regrets Live presentation to Thunder Bay. “Luckily enough I’m stubborn and hard headed, so it hasn’t been as hard for me as it is for others.
“But I’ve taken the opportunity to use what happened to me and take a negative and turn it into a positive, being able to relate to rural youth and teens so we can all join together as a nice, healthy Canadian society.”
His message is a simple one and echoes Newton’s third law of motion: for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
Kids are going to be kids and do dumb things, he said.
The key is knowing the vast majority of incidents are preventable and taking time to look before one leaps, so to speak.
“I’m only 25. I’m only six, seven years out of high school, so it’s easy for me to relate to the youth. It makes it a lot more real and more encompassing when they have somebody here in the flesh and blood telling them that these simple decisions that they think don’t make a difference can really affect them somewhere down the road, somewhere down the line,” said Fowler.
Seeing is believing, said Hammarskjold student Anton Demetrakopoulos, who heads the Hammarskjold’s Smart Risk program.
Everyone makes dumb decisions, he said, recalling a recent incident that cost him several stitches on his head. He’s just hopeful Fowler’s story, as graphic as it was, convinced his fellow classmates to minimize their risk.
“Young people make so many stupid decisions they wish they could take back,” he said. “Having him speak to them right now, because this is the crucial age where they’re starting to make stupid decisions, well the message of Smart Risk is to know your stupid line,” Demetrakopoulos said.
“So you’re supposed to know your limits.”
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