Young woman turns tragedy into triumph

Published: March 16, 2011  |  Source: westernwheel.com
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International Women’s Day: Quinn Page Smith devotes life to community accessibility

Turner Valley resident Quinn Page Smith was only 15 when she was faced with one of the most difficult experiences of her life.

In 1996 Page Smith, then a teenager attending Oilfields High School in Black Diamond, suffered a major spinal cord injury resulting from a car accident. The injury left her paralyzed from the waist down.

The community rallied to provide support and care for the young woman as she battled to recover so she could graduate high school with her friends.

In an incredible story of perseverance, community spirit and hope, Page Smith succeeded.

Not only did she graduate with her class, she now has a fulfilling career and is married with three wonderful children.

“It was certainly a challenging time, but it has not held me back in any shape or form,” said Page Smith. “Given that I was 15 years old, I was pretty resilient and I really just wanted to focus on graduating with my peers and giving back to the community.”

Rather than let the accident sap her spirit, Page Smith said she wanted to repay the goodwill the community had shown her during her time of need.

“There were a significant number of people who came together and supported me and my family during my healing, so it’s nice to be able to continue paying that forward to other people,” she said.

Not wanting to feel sorry for herself, Page Smith wanted to get out into the community and tell other teenagers about her story and in the importance of making sound decisions. For several years following the accident, Page Smith said she gave presentations to youth in the Foothills School Division about making smart choices, trusting your instincts and overcoming challenges.

“As beneficial as it was for youth at the time, that was also really healing and empowering for me,” she said.

Her desire to reach out to the community continued to impact all aspects of her life including her career path.

While in college, Page Smith said she volunteered for a non-profit organization in Calgary. During the experience, she realized how her professional background in marketing could join forces with community service to help others in need.

Today, she works as a campaign manager helping with fund and resource development for the United Way of Calgary. She has also volunteered her time with the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

“I’ve always been one to help people and volunteer,” she said. “It was something that was instilled in me as a kid.”

Page Smith also devotes her time to helping create a more accessible community, through educating others about physical disabilities. She has played an integral role in ensuring the new Sheep River Library in Turner Valley is wheelchair-friendly, senior-friendly and barrier free.

“As someone in a wheelchair, I’m a pretty independent person, so it’s important to me that I’m able to access everywhere in the community that everybody else can,” she said.

Page Smith said she draws inspiration for educating others from her own lack of experience in being exposed to people with disabilities while growing up in Turner Valley.

“I see how willing people are to learn and I enjoy seeing an open-mindedness come from that,” she said.

As a parent to three young children — six-year-old Jaden, four-year-old Dominik, and one-year-old Roman — Page Smith said it is imperative to her she have the same opportunities to be active with her children as any other parent would.

On New Year’s Eve, Page Smith married now husband Warren.

With the blessing of her children, her new husband, and her community service work, Page Smith said her life has never felt more fulfilled.

“I feel like I’m very rich with love,” she said.

By Thandi Fletcher | Okotoks Western Wheel