My name is Megan Hammond and I live in Wooster, OH. For the past 10 years, I have been working at a residential facility for juvenile criminals as a math teacher, Intervention Specialist. These students are challenging, but the growth I see on a regular basis is astounding. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher, and I graduated with my Master's Degree in Special Education in 2010. In May 2017, I was hired in at MetroHealth Medical Center, and started in June. I was hired as a Research Assistant, through the Center of Health Research and Policy department for the NIDILRR Model Systems Grant that MetroHealth was just awarded in the fall of 2016.
In July, 2007, I was in a motorcycle accident that severed my spinal cord and left me paralyzed from the upper waist down. Since then, I have grown passionate about proving to people that I can still live a fully independent life and about helping others with acquired disabilities live as independently as possible. This is why I started working toward a MS in Mental Health Counseling, specializing in Career Counseling. I have advocated on behalf of the disability community in Ohio on a national level by participating in United Spinal Association’s Roll on Capitol Hill in 2012 and 2017, and was recently elected as the first Great Lakes Regional Advocacy Coordinator for United Spinal's Grassroots Advocacy Program they are just launching. I also serve as the Vice President for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of United Spinal Association, where we offer education and recreation opportunities for those with spinal cord injuries/disease.
My Blog on having a spinal cord injury
One year ago, I decided to start a blog about my journeys, adventures, mindsets, and struggles. The Wheel Life Blog is meant to be an inspiration to others with physical disabilities. I talk about challenges related to having a spinal cord injury, time management and productivity habits and routines that I use, and how to shift your mindset from a Negative Nancy to a Positive Polly. My hope is that I inspire and motivate others to live an independent life, even after a spinal cord injury. But, these tips and habits can be utilized by others, regardless of ability level.
After my injury, I put on some weight, which I think is a pretty normal thing as depression, anxiety and other factors come into play. About three years ago, I started a health and wellness journey. To date, I have lost 30 pounds, gained a bunch of muscle, but (more importantly) gained so much confidence, courage, and knowledge that has oozed into other areas of my life, including work/career and relationships. I am learning what works for my body and what I can still do. Sure, there are things that I won't be able to do because of my SCI, but there are so many MORE things that I am able to do, and that's what I choose to focus on. I have competed in 5ks where I am the only wheelchair participating (a couple with a few other people in chairs) and workout 5-6 days a week in a gym where (at my time of the day) I am the only wheelchair in there. I do know others in chairs utilize the facility, but not usually when I am there. Mindset is key in anything you do, and I am glad I have learned all the knowledge I have (and still growing) and gained the confidence to put that knowledge to work.