Life for 21-year-old Jimmy Jan changed in an instant in the winter of 2021. With New South Wales in lockdown and his university classes online, he made the decision to spend the snow season living out of a van in the Snowy Mountains.
“I was studying from my van and skiing and snowboarding every day,” he said.
“One morning I was skiing and I decided to hit the jumps.
“I landed the jump very poorly, broke my back and sustained a spinal cord injury.”
As a medical student, Mr Jan knew things weren’t looking good when he regained consciousness and couldn’t feel his legs.
“I saw my X-rays and I could see my spine was displaced over my spinal cord,” he said.
“I knew I probably wasn’t going to be walking for quite a bit.
“I’m paralysed from just above my belly button down. I rely on my wheelchair now for my mobility.”
‘The world is still my oyster’
Since the accident Mr Jan has lived in hospital in Sydney.
It was there, during some down-time, that he posted his first video on social media explaining how he ended up in a wheelchair.
In just one month, he amassed more than 400,000 followers on TikTok.
His videos have been watched more than 36 million times.
“I had no idea this was going to happen,” Mr Jan said.
“I thought this was an interesting story to tell and share it with a lot of people who probably didn’t know much about spinal injuries.”
Having people from around the world leave comments on his videos has shown Mr Jan that there’s a lot to overcome when it comes to stigma for people with disabilities.
“I think a lot of people see disabilities as a hindrance to life and a big obstacle,” he said.
“But I think there’s so much that people who are living with disabilities have to offer and I think it’s really important to show the world what this is like.”
Mr Jan is preparing to leave hospital to head back to the University of Newcastle to continue his medical degree in 2022, but he still plans on sharing his story of life with a disability on social media.
Click here to read the full article on ABC Newcastle.