Josh Dueck has been skiing since the age of 13. In 2004, while coaching children, he overshot a demonstration jump that broke his back and left him a T11 complete paraplegic. He was 23.
Josh’s emergency room doctor said to him, “You’re going to rock the world in a wheelchair.” And he did exactly that.
It took Josh only nine months to start skiing again, after which he was unstoppable. He won silver and gold at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Paralympics respectively. In 2012, he became the first person to perform a backflip in a sit ski (new window).
Although he has since retired from professional skiing, Josh is now a keynote speaker and an advocate for health and safety. In addition, he has been a speaker with WorkSafeBC (new window) for over a decade, participating in their Young Worker Safety and Paralympic Speaker Programs.
Group photo from the Spirit Mountain Adaptive Race Camp 2016, where Josh was the Head Coach (Josh is second from left, in wheelchair)
It was through WorkSafeBC that Josh heard of the Neil Squire Society. His goal was to “get my feet wet in a traditional work environment.” He joined the Working Together program, which helps people with disabilities develop the skills they need to achieve their employment goals.
With the help of a wage subsidy through Working Together, Josh began working as a Peer Program Coordinator for the Kootenay and Kamloops region at Spinal Cord Injury BC (new window).
For the past 60 years, Spinal Cord Injury BC has been helping British Columbians with spinal cord injuries and their families adjust, adapt, and thrive as they deal with a new injury or struggle with the ongoing challenges of living and aging with a physical disability.
Josh works from home and in the community, so some computer-related accommodations were all that were necessary. He explains his new role: “I mentor those with spinal cord injuries, [and also do] program planning, partnerships, and networking. I am learning how to work in a social impact team environment.” He feels he has “absolutely” achieved the goal he had set out to accomplish.
Chris McBride, Executive Director of Spinal Cord Injury BC, adds, “Josh is a dynamic and motivated individual who has been an excellent addition to the team. We are very pleased that we have been able to find funding to keep him on beyond the end of his Working Together subsidy.”
As for his plans for the future, Josh says he would like to “build on this opportunity and use it to continue serving the end user. I have learned a great deal. I am thankful for the chance to express myself in this environment, thanks to the Neil Squire Society.”
Chris McBride believes the Working Together program has been valuable to Spinal Cord Injury BC. He says, “SCI BC has benefitted immeasurably from this program. We have been able to bring over seven talented, under-employed individuals with disabilities who have each brought unique skills and talent to our organization. The positions created have filled vital gaps in service and support, and broadened our service delivery reach to under-served regions of the province.”
Josh was recently inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame (new window). To know more about him and his life, visit his website at joshdueck.com (new window) or watch his 2013 TEDx talk, “Coming full circle (new window).”