How One Woman Is Turning Her Life With Spina Bifida Into A Learning Opportunity For Others...
For all her life, Isabelle Giard has lived with Spina Bifida, a birth defect that affects the spine. While many have assumed that this condition would prevent someone from doing many activities, she wants to let us know that it's simply not true. Kris Artuso spoke to Isabelle in a one-on-one conversation.
Kris: Tell us a bit about yourself
Isabelle: My name is Isabella Ger. I was born with spina bifida and I've been in a wheelchair since I was young. Two years ago I started a Youtube challenge to bring awareness to the disability but to also showcase activities, exercises, and that things are possible for us.
Kris: So what is spina bifida for those who don’t know?
Isabelle: Spina Bifida is a problem with the spine, so it's a malformation and that's why I had over 20 surgeries. Either leg, back, everything like that. So when I lay on my back like I can't lay down straight and it's I move around in a manual wheelchair.
Kris: So I would imagine the reason you started these exercise programs, is because you noticed that while there’s an abundance of workouts for people without wheelchairs, there are not many adapted ones for those in them?
Isabelle: Exactly. A few years ago, I also discovered a CrossFit in Vaudreuil that’s great because they also adapt their workouts.
Kris: If someone were to watch one of your videos, what would they consist of?
Isabelle: So, my YouTube channel is based on a lot of different topics. I have interviews with people related to my disability or people whose content I’m interested in. I also film myself doing a variety of activities. My first video was camping.
Kris: That’s incredible.
Isabelle: It’s to showcase how it was possible, what the adaptation was and how it went. The first year was a bit of everything, now it's more about showing what's possible. And what it’s like being in a wheelchair from my perspective.
Kris: I find this fantastic because, people don't always see this kind of content, and we somewhat know that these programs and videos exist, but they've never been brought to the forefront, and so the fact that you're championing this is amazing.
Isabelle: Yeah, I know it’s a problem for sure and I want to showcase this but also teach people that there are so many things possible for those in wheelchairs. We CAN do the same things as everybody else. It's just a matter of adaptation and modification.
Kris: There are also obviously misconceptions, right? I would imagine that people might say things to you- perhaps not from an ignorant standpoint- but maybe they're not necessarily aware of how you go about doing certain things in your everyday life.
Isabelle: Yeah, exactly. I understand that not everybody can understand, so that’s why I try to showcase my perspective. I'm also a very positive person. My mom was always saying "Why are you always being so positive?" I just think it's what I want. There's no use in being sad or just complaining about it.
Kris: No, and you don't want pity. Nobody likes pity.
Isabelle: Yeah, exactly.
Kris: Are there any particular projects you're working on right now that you might want to give us a sneak peek at?
Isabelle: Currently, I'm working on my website which will feature all my videos. I also have a Facebook page where I share content and go live.
Kris: What’s your vision?
Isabelle: I have a vision of making it bigger and one day having my own TV show (laughs).
Kris: So the TV show is the goal?
Isabelle: Well, yeah, the "big” goal (laughing). I'm just starting and hoping to grow. I was thinking of creating a forum where people can come to me with questions and I answer them.
Kris: Is there anything you'd like to let the general public know about Spina Bifida?
Isabelle: Well, there are different “levels” that cause different needs. I'm in my wheelchair, but others can walk with crutches, so it depends. I want people to ask me questions too! Sometimes they’re scared and I truly don’t want them to be scared! For me, it’s my pleasure to answer questions and give out information for those who aren't sure. I also want people to know that my world is more or less like everybody else’s.
It's just a little different. But that just means I come with a new perspective!