Founded in September 2012 by 22 year-old Alton Paas, Fundashon Alton Paas aims to improve quality of life for yu’i Kòrsou with spinal cord injury (SCI) through intense activity-based recovery programs, education, support and encouragement.
Alton’s aware of 16 other yu’i Kòrsou with SCI, but thinks there are more. “We have to keep active to stay healthy to mitigate other health risks (high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity etc). Unfortunately, the current system (in Curaçao) doesn’t facilitate physical activity. Most [of us] work; try to make a living, meet basic needs, but aren’t physically active.” (Alton has reached out to all 16 people and is particularly in awe of the car mechanic)
“When you become disabled you realize how little adaptation and respect Curaçao has [for the disabled community] – just take a look at our infrastructure – there are so many buildings with more than one floor, but no elevator. Some forget to build wheelchair ramps making it impossible for us to enter. We have very few disabled parking spots. Very few disabled bathrooms (…) We’re not there yet; people have to be made aware and many things have to change for us to truly respect the disabled.”
Furthermore, “available [treatment] options in Curacao don’t encourage people with SCI to continue to work hard and improve. Some of us want more and we need an outlet.”
Alton suffered SCI after a car accident in November 2009. A self-described big picture thinker and easy Christopher Reeve quoter, he kept dreaming up alternative treatments for himself and others while undergoing traditional treatment. (Alton ended up receiving the Project Walk® Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center recommendation while completing surgery in Colombia)
He realizes how difficult it is for yu’i Kórsou with SCI to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest treatment options and he’s extremely thankful to his parents for giving him access and encouragement. “My mother gave me that extra push… She encouraged me to continue to work on my dream: launch [the Foundation], seek funding, raise awareness, and help others. (…) I’m very lucky and blessed to have a support system, people who encourage me.”
The Foundation is currently raising funds to send Alton and two other yu’i Kòrsou to Project Walk®Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center’s program in Carlsbad, CA. “Our final goal is to start a local institute where people with SCI can work out on a daily basis. We’ll try to replicate components of the Project Walk program and host physical rehabilitation as well as general exercise… Exercise will become a way of life! And we’ll all support each other through our individual journeys.”
Alton hopes to receive his bachelor’s degree in ICT and live a “normal life” (wife/kids/house/car)… Something tells him (and me) he’ll end up leading an extraordinary life, “I feel like I’ll be in a position to make many positive changes.” Alton isn’t looking for our help. He simply wants us all to be awesome. “See… if you’re awesome, then you’ll make positive changes that’ll benefit us all. The world is hungry… for all things positive. Keep ‘em coming! We’ll gladly munch on them. We all have to do our part.”
Here’s Alton’s submission to the 2012 Curacao International Film Festival Rotterdam (CIFFR) short film competition. Simple and beautiful. Awesome!