Nigel and I (Walk On Sydney's newest recruits) arrived in Carlsbad, California on Saturday 20th November........a day they had 10% of their annual rainfall! This made learning to drive on the other side of the road (and car!) a challenge, but a manageable one.
We started at Project Walk on Monday 22nd November and were introduced to Brian Malkinson (Institute Education Coordinator) who made us feel right at home. Mica Gaila was appointed our lead trainer and we immediately hit it off with her, although its hard to imagine anyone not getting along with her!The trainers at Project Walk are all very welcoming, knowledgeable and concise in their explanations of tasks.
The first few days were mainly spent observing the trainers and a number of different clients who all had injuries ranging from C3 - L5. Even though we are 1000's of miles from home, we don't feel too homesick as there are currently 5 Australian clients with friends and families in tow. The Australian contingent is certainly not in the minority!
After only 3 days at Project Walk, the Thanksgiving long weekend was upon us so we took the opportunity to explore a number of parts of California from Orange County to San Diego. We also made a sizable contribution to the American economy on Black Friday by shopping from 430am until late afternoon! Queueing at 400am outside a sports store was interesting as the temperature was only just above freezing, and made us question whether those Nike's were really worth the wait!
Week 2 at Project Walk involved a few lectures and two exams on different topics associated to the Dardzinski Method. We also commenced more hands on client time in this second week where we were able to start to put our training into practice.
Nigel and I experienced some amazing moments in week 2, such as a C5 injured lady walking with two sticks; a C3 injured man taking steps; a previously very flaccid L1 injured man now out of his chair and walking with a walker; numerous other clients experiencing new sensations and movements traditionally thought to be unachievable post injury and which are now not only improving quality of life but life expectancy!!
We took the opportunity over our 3rd weekend to experience one of California's most famous attractions - Disneyland!! We had a great day enjoying a number of unbelievable rides, seeing an amazing Christmas parade through the main street as well as soaking up the atmosphere that is Disneyland! - The night was particularly extraordinary to see Disneyland all lit up and decked out for Christmas!
Week 3 so far has seen us treating more clients, getting more creative with workouts and having the pleasure of observing the founder, Ted Dardzinski, treating a number of clients. His ears are probably sore now from the amount of questions we bombarded him with today!