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Character Development Class Guest Speaker Shelley Allen

January 10, 2019

“Don’t beat yourself up about the decisions or mistakes you make, but take ownership in it and learn from it.” This was the message Shelley Allen gave to the students in Mr. Hoskinson and Mrs. Slota’s Character Development classes, as a guest speaker.

Shelley Allen was as senior in high school, when her life was changed forever in a terrible car accident. Shelley was a former athlete and had aspirations of becoming a nurse, when on April 30, 1992, the car she was traveling in overturned in a ditch and she was paralyzed from the chest down. Shelley described what happened that night to the students and the poor decisions that were made that have lifelong effects, not just for Shelley, but for the person driving the vehicle and those who love and care about her and care for her.

Shelley recalled the events that evening and the tests and on-going therapy she receives, still today. She told them how she was sent to Colorado for therapy and discovered how truly blessed she was when she learned there were two floors to the facility. One was for spinal cord injuries and the other brain injuries. The experience in Colorado taught her that there were people far worse off than her. In Colorado she learned how to integrate back into society and learn to do the the everyday things we all take for granted. Shelley went on to explain the extent of her injuries and what her limitations are. She was very open to the class about the realities of being a person in a wheelchair, including transportation, daily living skills, personal hygiene issues, ect. She was very open with the students and welcomed questions from them.

Shelley ended up graduating with her class and went on to Western Iowa Tech. and later  transferred to Buena Vista University to get her degree and become a social worker in 1999. She said she had always wanted to be a nurse and in fact got her CNA, while still in high school, but because of her accident, was lead down a different path in life. Now she works in Cherokee at Accura Healthcare, in Cherokee, as a social worker. Shelley expressed to the students how important it is for her, despite her limitations, to be a productive member of society.

Her message to the students concluded with talking to them about living with their choices, consequences, and how lies end up making one feel guilty and not only affect themselves, but it affects those who love them. Shelley’s story could be looked at in one or two ways, one could feel sorry for her or one could look at all the blessings she has in her life, including her family, friends, loved ones, co-workers, clients and caretakers. Most of all Shelley is blessed with a positive attitude and an awesome message to share.  


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