Gold-medal Paralympian Josh Dueck, a native of Kimberley, B.C., is touring secondary schools in the Kootenay and Elk Valley regions next week talking to students about being seriously injured as a worker, the importance of safety on the job and how he realized his dreams despite his injury.
Josh learned to ski at the age of 13 and at 15, after discovering a love of flying through the air and sliding on snow, he joined the local freestyle ski club. When financial constraints forced him to retire his dream of competing in the Olympics, Josh refocused his passion for sport as head coach of Silver Star Freestyle Ski Club in Vernon. While preparing students for the 2004 Canadian Junior Nationals, Josh went too fast on a demonstration jump and overshot the landing hill:
“Intuition said stop, but my ego made me go,” Josh says. He dropped 100 feet, smashed into the ground, broke his back and severed his spine. At 23, he was paralyzed from the waist down. Despite his injury, Josh met his new challenges with the determination and focus that led him to compete in international-level sports. He worked through rehabilitation in one-third of the expected time and was back on the ski hill winning three Canadian championships by 2007. Josh later won a silver in slalom at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Whistler/Vancouver and gold and silver in the super-combined and downhill ski categories at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics in Russia.
Josh is speaking in at the Fernie Secondary School on June 12th. Please contact the school’s administration to attend a session.
WorkSafeBC continues to focus prevention efforts on young workers, concentrating on industries that pose the highest risk to youth, partnering with employer associations, organized labour, government, parents, community groups and employment centres to increase awareness of young worker health and safety issues. The young worker injury rate for male workers declined in 2016 but remains above the provincial average at 2.7 claims per 100 workers as compared to 2.1 for all young workers.
Josh’s latest project is fatherhood, as dad to three-year-old daughter Nova and six-month-old son Hudson. “It’s been the most incredible journey so far – the most challenging and the most rewarding,” he says.