After a swimming pool incident just before her 21st birthday, Rhiannon was told by doctors she would never walk again. However, due to her sheer determination Rhiannon proved the doctors wrong and after lots of hard work and extreme perseverance she is now able to walk short distances with the assistance of crutches and drive her beloved car.
Not allowing her circumstances to stop her from enjoying life to the fullest, Rhiannon has since set out to help others who have suffered from a spinal cord injury. Founding The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Centre in Epping Melbourne, Rhiannon and her team offer evidence-based recovery models that utilise the latest recovery options and modalities specifically for those who have suffered from this type of injury.
Without stopping there, next month Rhiannon and The Next Step team will celebrate five fabulous years with the launch of a new wellness hub. The launch will see an entirely new floor dedicated to the holistic wellness of TNS clients, as well as their family and support workers, who are an integral part of their recovery process.
Since opening TNS, it has been Rhiannon's goal to provide others living with a spinal cord injury a facility that not only works on the body, but also the mind - something that was crucial throughout her own recovery, and still is today.
Rhiannon's work also extends past the TNS activity, as she leads motivational talks to inspire others (including school children) to live their life to the fullest, whilst also sharing her story to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries in the hopes of preventing further accidents like her own.
For further information about Rhiannon and The Next Step, please visit the below links: http://thenextstepsci.org.au
Question: Can you tell us about The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Centre?
Rhiannon Tracey: When I founded The Next Step (SCI) it was my goal to provide a spinal cord injury community that offer evidence based recovery models that utilise the latest recovery options and modalities. The Next Step (TNS) team is made up of specialist experts that provide our clients with individualised services, giving them the best recovery options. We offer those with spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions the expertise, therapy and long-term physical and psychological support that enable them to achieve the best possible recovery outcomes.
Question: What inspired you to open The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Centre?
Rhiannon Tracey: Not long after my accident, doctors told me that I would never be able walk or drive my car again. However, through hard work and determination I engaged in a specialist programs similar to what we now offer at The Next Step, and can now walk with the assistant of crutches and drive my beloved car.
It was during my own recovery that I found the medical care you receive through the hospital system primarily focuses on stabilising and securing the safety of the individual. This system alone is unable to provide those with spinal cord injures and other neurological disorders the intense therapy they require for a long-term quality of life.
Soon after this, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to helping others who have suffered a spinal cord injury and give them therapy options they require. This would not only give them the long term quality of life they deserve, but also assist them in regaining a sense of independence - something I believe is extremely important.
Question: What do you hope to achieve with The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Centre?
Rhiannon Tracey: I want to continue to spread the message about the positive work that The Next Step SCI is doing to encourage and bring hope to those who have suffered from a spinal cord injury. I'm also passionate about raising awareness around spinal cord injuries and getting people thinking to try and prevent these types of injuries from happening.
Question: Can you tell us about the new wellness hub at The Next Step?
Rhiannon Tracey: The new wellness hub is something I have been dreaming about since the inception of The Next Step (TNS) five years ago. The launch of the new wellness hub will see an entire new level dedicated to the holistic wellness of TNS clients, as well as their family and support networks who are integral part of their ongoing recovery. Both myself and the team wanted to design a place of sanctuary, which is why the new wellness space will offer holistic healing modalities such as massage, acupuncture, naturopathy, life coaching and wellness workshops.
It's been my goal in the past five years to provide others living with a spinal cord injury a facility that not only works on the body, but also the mind - something that has been crucial during my own recovery.
We've also had the wonderful team from Spa Electrics come on board with a generation $50,000 donation, which has allowed for us to install a lift to allow access for TNS clients to the new wellness hub, which previously wouldn't have been possible.
Question: What self-care rituals do you practice, daily?
Rhiannon Tracey: I have spent the last ten years implementing new routines and rituals into my life for self-care and realistically they don't always stick as my schedule can sometimes be all over the place. That being said, the absolute best self-care practise I have now put in place is to listen to my body! If I am feeling like my energy has been exhausted, or I am beginning to feel overwhelmed, I just stop!
This can mean packing up shop for the day, taking a moment to be outside in nature to breathe fresh air, or something as simple as just saying NO.
I've learnt just how much of an impact I can make when be when my energetic cup is full, so I've made the promise to myself to keep it that way!
Question: Do you have a favourite quote or mantra?
Rhiannon Tracey: Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together – Marilyn Monroe.
I have this tattooed on my arm as a constant reminder that everything happens for a reason!
Question: Can you share your 2019 goals, with us?
Rhiannon Tracey: To create memories! This past decade has been all about spinal cord injuries for me, so this year I am focusing on LIFE. It's time to for me to embrace the evolution of who I have become and what I have created since having this injury.
I have been a patient, a daughter, a friend, a wife and boss and spent a lot of time nurturing and supporting others, and while some of those things haven't entirely worked out the way I planned, they have helped to develop the women I am today.
This women needs to experience all that the world has to offer with a prime focus on independence, I'm not sure where that will take me, but I'm looking forward to finding out!
Interview by Brooke Hunter