Louise, Kate, Hayden and Callum today  by Mrs Lynette Cunningham

Speech on Resilience 

Read Callum Patrick's speech made at assembly this week

6 years, 7 months and 24 days ago my world was flipped upside down, literally.

One day driving to our bus stop down the end of our shingle road, our car spun out of control and into the hedge.

Things were looking a bit grim at this point and  therefore we missed the bus that day. Somehow, my sister Libby made it out of the car and ran for help, aged 7.

It is because of her actions that I’m probably still here today as once we crashed I went unconscious and stopped breathing. Just quickly, you might see Mr Stephens in one of these photos, as in his previous life he was the Policeman here in Geraldine, so thanks to you as you had a massive part to play on the day.

It was touch and go to say the least, by ambulance I was rushed to Timaru Hospital followed by a quick chopper ride North and eventually I made it to the Intensive Care Unit in Christchurch Hospital.

Many thanks goes out to the team at St John, Geraldine Fire Brigade and also the Westpac Chopper for all your help on that day, sorry I wasn’t able to thank you there and then myself.

I had suffered a ‘Traumatic Brain Injury’ and it was either stay in Christchurch or fly me up to Auckland for treatment. All of this had happened and more to the point, I couldn’t remember a thing. I proceeded to make a swift recovery for the type of injury I had suffered, having physio every day once on the ward, regular doctors coming to visit and I sure did eat a lot of ice cream!

I had to learn to walk, talk and eat again at just the tender age of 11. This was surely a massive hurdle to overcome as being quite a sporty young fella, being bedridden was frustrating to say the least. I also had many other challenges that I had to overcome in order to get better. My injury wasn’t a matter of memory loss, but more like I’d forgotten everything and in the 5 weeks I was in Hospital.  I had to remember how to do all of these core things again. I wasn’t able to swallow and in order to eat real food so I was stuck on tubs of ice cream and fortisips. This to any talkative person wouldn’t be an issue, but as I couldn’t speak, this was quite a challenge. But why let this get in your way?  Would you if you were chucked into my shoes? 

I am quite confident to say from this whole experience that I am a resilient person, may sound cocky, but when you’re put in a situation like I was and lived to tell the tale you know what I mean. This is why I believe if anyone of you out there were in a similar place, you would have enough brains to do the right thing and show some courage to fight back.

Once out of Hospital, not all was finished. I had several extensive physio sessions, occupational therapy and pediatric help that I still had to attend and this was all about the time of starting here at GHS.

Opinions of other people about me were being voiced, as well as people physically pointing at me if I walked past, just because I was different, different to them. And to be honest I got a bit sick of this and for a spell it was quite personal as most of those ‘judgers’ didn’t know me, and therefore didn’t actually have the right to make those harsh comments and gestures.

In fact, if I go away, I still get some people who stare at me while I walk past them but by now it means nothing. The thought of me being so called “different” was on my mind a lot during these years. But with the right mindset, I wanted to recover as being the way I was, was quite debilitating, although it didn’t make me want to stop all of the things I used to do. Plenty of sport, music and the occasional stint on stage really helped me come along a lot quicker as getting back into the swing of things made it seem like things were back to the old routines. However, even walking can be a daily challenge that I overcome every day.

One major challenge I encountered while in the junior school was the dreaded 1.6km run. To most of you fine athletes, it was just a casual Period 4 on a Monday, but to me I was set on completing this run as it would be another minor victory in my road to recovery. Friends were another massive incentive for me to get back into things as starting a new school without them would be quite hard.

These guys here along with the rest of Room 5 used to come see me with touching messages which kept me in the loop of what was going on back in little old G-Town. It also helped my drive to get home as I didn’t want to be stuck in hospital my whole life, so to all you guys out there, thanks for all you did.

So if I were to leave you with any messages here today it would be to never give up. As you’ve just heard I didn’t want to when put in the deep end when I couldn’t swim, I’m sure you would do the same.

As we’ve just heard from Mr Coleman, ALL of us have challenges in our life but it is all about how we choose to approach them.   Are we going to:

  • Give up? Make excuses not to do it ?

  • OR choose to tackle it head on and prove people wrong as Mr Coleman did by being the first diabetic on Outward Bound and as I have many times over and over.

So don’t make excuses get out there and do it!

Thank you.