We were most fortunate to have paraplegic Robbie Peime, as our This Is Me guest speaker in Assembly yesterday. Robbie states his ‘journey’ as follows;
“When I was 17, my life changed forever when I was involved in a head-on collision between a car and the motorbike I was riding. I was airlifted to hospital in critical condition and spent 14 days in an induced coma in intensive care. I had broken approximately 60% of the bones in my body, was facing the possibility of an arm amputation, and had been left a complete paraplegic. I underwent major surgery to secure my back and severed spinal cord, and multiple other operations to repair my broken body. After months of recovery in a rehabilitation centre, then came the overwhelming task of learning to accept how life was going to be now that I was living in a wheelchair and not able to do the things I once did. I found myself battling with depression, obesity, low self-esteem and isolation due to my fear of people judging and staring at me. Friends and family stuck by me and started to encourage me back to the gym. This was my turning point. I then decided to dedicate my life to being as strong, fit and healthy as I could be. My training regime consists of daily gym workouts, swimming, hand-cycling and my race chair. I am building up my cardiovascular fitness and strength to compete in a Half Iron Man event. I have established my own personal training and fitness business and I have set my sights on helping other people in similar situations to my own. I understand the physical and emotional struggles that they are going through and can help them improve their lives to be the best they can. If they can achieve a happy and healthy life as I have, then I will have achieved my goal.”
He certainly engaged and motivated the audience of more than 200 Junior and Middle School students with his courage and resilience.
Robbie spoke about his crash, stating that he took full responsibility for the crash, and he emphasised the importance of understanding that every action/choice has a consequence.
He then shared the low points of his journey and that it was the arrival of his pet dog Lenny, that changed his life, providing an avenue for responsibility, having something to care for, and opening doors to conversations that were more than just about him and his wheelchair.
Robbie heads to Cairns on Thursday to participate in another Ironman competition. He told the girls and boys that he is a naturally lazy person, and it is hard to train and compete, but he sets himself small goals each day.
Our girls and boys asked many meaningful questions of Robbie, including Charlie in Year 5 who asked: “Would you rather have not had the accident, or do you prefer the character that you have now developed as a result of it?”
Robbie spoke about taking nothing for granted, appreciating all that you have and his frustration about an “everyone wins” mentality (he had just been listening to a segment on radio that suggested that “Pass The parcel” should be banned from parties because some children feel bad when they don’t ‘win’). He more than most understands that life offers challenges and that they can be tackled, or be allowed to defeat you.
We look forward to welcoming Robbie back to Tintern Grammar, and of hearing of his achievements in his Ironman competitions, and following his progress as he aims for the Olympics.
by Adam Kenny, Head of Boys’ Junior School