School Speaking Program

Making Safety Personal

Daniel Shoemaker describing the injury that changed his life to students and teachers at Springbank Community High School in 2017.

Over the years, we have learned that to make a real impact on the way young people think about safety, we need to do more than simply teach them how to stay safe.

We need to convince young workers that safety isn’t an afterthought or something that can be ignored – it needs to be at the center of everything they do. We have learned that the most effective way to do this is to make it personal.

When we bring injury survivors into schools to tell their story, suddenly a workplace injury is no longer an abstract idea – it is a real thing that happens to real people and the evidence is right there in front of them.

The idea that “it would never happen to me” is all too common among people of all ages. This is why it is so important and so impactful to confront people with the reality that these things do happen, and they happen to people who are not so different from them.

Since 2014 we have:

  1. Visited more than 65 schools across 31 communities in Alberta and now BC;
  2. Reached more than 9,200 students directly with in-person presentations from survivors of workplace injuries; and,
  3. Given three different survivors of workplace injuries a platform to share their stories and make a difference in the lives of young people just beginning their working lives.

Spring 2019 Tour

Our 7th School Speaking Tour took place from April 29 through May 3, 2019 across a 36,571 km² geographical area ranging from Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge BC to Cadotte Lake and Kinuso AB.

Over the course of 5 days, we spoke to more than 640 students at 10 different schools in the region.

The Spring 2019 School Speaking Tour was split between two keynote speakers:

  1. Kelly Pack completed his first 6 school speaking engagements with Safety in Schools from April 29 through May 1, 2019.
  2. Daniel Shoemaker had completed 26 school speaking engagements with Safety in Schools prior to this tour and spoke at 4 more schools on May 2 and 3, 2019.

Our team was joined on this tour by Joanne Tally, representing the Alberta Construction Safety Association. Joanne began each school engagement with an overview of the legislation that is in place to protect young workers and what it means for them and answered questions from students about how legislation and best practices might apply to their own workplaces.

Our Speakers

Daniel Shoemaker

Daniel Shoemaker is an accomplished athlete, role model and entrepreneur.

In 2014, he became Canada’s first national snowboard champion in the upper limb category and went on to be the first upper limb amputee to compete in world championship snowboarding, where he has medaled multiple times. In 2017, Daniel competed at the World Adaptive Surfing Championship in California and in 2018 he took home the gold medal from his first Rip Curl National’s in Tofino, BC – Canada’s premier surfing competition.

In between snowboarding and surfing, Daniel has competed in motocross events around North America with a bike he modified to suit his adaptive requirements. This experience led Daniel to his next major venture as the Founder and CEO of Adaptive Lifestyle Solutions – a multi-divisional corporation that fabricates, distributes and prototypes equipment for any impairment or disability.

Daniel is an inspiring speaker and a devoted advocate for workplace safety.

The survivor of a traumatic workplace injury, Daniel uses his experience to encourage others to take personal responsibility and a proactive approach toward their own health and safety at work. Daniel has been involved with Safety in Schools since 2014 and in that time he has shared his story in person with more than 3,500 high school aged students.

He is also featured in our Life Lessons – Learning the Hard Way course and Real People, Real Life Video Library.


“Cutting Corners”

Dan Shoemaker was the speaker that had the most effect on me because the way he described how his oil rig crew disregarded safety in favor of getting the work done efficiently really mirrored the way that people work on a farm sometimes.

His story of how he was injured struck me because I know that sometimes on the farm we follow the same mindset “bypass safety features because we’re smart enough to not get hurt” and usually a close call isn’t enough for us to realize that the safety measures are there for a reason and no amount of time saved is enough to be worth the possible injuries. It was encouraging to see how he recovered from his injury but still frightening to see another story of how it could happen to anyone, especially those who may cut corners to save time.

Anonymous Student,
Lethbridge AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:44:24-06:00

Anonymous Student,
Lethbridge AB

Dan Shoemaker was the speaker that had the most effect on me because the way he described how his oil rig crew disregarded safety in favor of getting the work done efficiently really mirrored the way that people work on a farm sometimes. His story of how he was injured struck me because I know that sometimes on the farm we follow the same mindset “bypass safety features because we’re smart enough to not get hurt” and usually a close call isn’t enough for us to realize that the safety measures are there for a reason and no amount of time saved is enough to be worth the possible injuries. It was encouraging to see how he recovered from his injury but still frightening to see another story of how it could happen to anyone, especially those who may cut corners to save time.

“Life Can Change in One Second”

Of all the speakers that were brought in to speak to us this semester, I think Dan Shoemaker made the biggest impact on me.

It really struck me personally because I have always had a carefree mindset, never really caring about safety and all the laws and rules. He taught me that life can change in a second and you will end up regretting that one small mistake for the rest of your life because you will never be able to forget it. After his presentation I have tried to more closely follow specific rules and regulations, like I’m sure he regrets not doing.

Anonymous Student,
Lethbridge AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:43:04-06:00

Anonymous Student,
Lethbridge AB

Of all the speakers that were brought in to speak to us this semester, I think Dan Shoemaker made the biggest impact on me. It really struck me personally because I have always had a carefree mindset, never really caring about safety and all the laws and rules. He taught me that life can change in a second and you will end up regretting that one small mistake for the rest of your life because you will never be able to forget it. After his presentation I have tried to more closely follow specific rules and regulations, like I’m sure he regrets not doing.

“An Important Message”

I really thought students walked away with an important message. I had parents come to me later as well to say that students came home and started a conversation around safety on their farms.

It was a really great opportunity for the students to hear Daniel’s story. A lot of them have the same mentality that Daniel did have and I hope that they learn and change that mentality before they get hurt.

Ashley,
Teacher, Bowden AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:39:12-06:00

Ashley,
Teacher, Bowden AB

I really thought students walked away with an important message. I had parents come to me later as well to say that students came home and started a conversation around safety on their farms. It was a really great opportunity for the students to hear Daniel’s story. A lot of them have the same mentality that Daniel did have and I hope that they learn and change that mentality before they get hurt.

“Engaging and Personable”

Daniel was an engaging and personable speaker. The students thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought he did a great job on being specific to his accident but not dwelling on the negative or the gruesome nature of it. It left them with a feeling of how serious we need to take safety.

Steve,
Teacher, Calgary AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:40:30-06:00

Steve,
Teacher, Calgary AB

Daniel was an engaging and personable speaker. The students thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought he did a great job on being specific to his accident but not dwelling on the negative or the gruesome nature of it. It left them with a feeling of how serious we need to take safety.

“Thank You”

I just wanted to say thank you for traveling to [our school] and sharing Daniel's story.

I know it hit a chord with the students as there is still conversation in class and the hallways about his presentation. We were proud to host Daniel and sincerely hope that you will consider us again if you have the opportunity to bring speakers like Daniel out to schools as their messages are important to young workers.

Dan,
Teacher, Coaldale AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:42:12-06:00

Dan,
Teacher, Coaldale AB

I just wanted to say thank you for traveling to [our school] and sharing Daniel's story. I know it hit a chord with the students as there is still conversation in class and the hallways about his presentation. We were proud to host Daniel and sincerely hope that you will consider us again if you have the opportunity to bring speakers like Daniel out to schools as their messages are important to young workers.

“Thinking of Daniel”

The students could relate to his story and experience, which kept them quite intrigued. In my shop I had a student tell me he was "thinking of Daniel" when he used the table saw. He went and got push sticks.

They all can't believe he is alive. The pain he endured really resonates with them. We talked lots about how he said "it will never happen to me".

Becky,
Teacher, Breton AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T10:51:54-06:00

Becky,
Teacher, Breton AB

The students could relate to his story and experience, which kept them quite intrigued. In my shop I had a student tell me he was "thinking of Daniel" when he used the table saw. He went and got push sticks. They all can't believe he is alive. The pain he endured really resonates with them. We talked lots about how he said "it will never happen to me".

“Lots of Conversations”

The presentation definitely had an impact on the students. There were lots of conversations with one another as well as their teachers once they returned to class.

I had the opportunity to discuss the presentation with all of my nines and some of the tens. Their general reaction was positive. One comment was, “first you see this guy with one arm and then he starts sharing about surfing, and snowboarding and all the great things he’s done in spite of only having one arm – he was really a good speaker”. Please encourage Daniel to keep sharing his story.

Colleen,
Teacher, Penhold AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:38:23-06:00

Colleen,
Teacher, Penhold AB

The presentation definitely had an impact on the students. There were lots of conversations with one another as well as their teachers once they returned to class. I had the opportunity to discuss the presentation with all of my nines and some of the tens. Their general reaction was positive. One comment was, “first you see this guy with one arm and then he starts sharing about surfing, and snowboarding and all the great things he’s done in spite of only having one arm – he was really a good speaker”. Please encourage Daniel to keep sharing his story.

“Deeply Moved”

I was deeply moved by Daniel’s message and story.

The student feedback was very positive. They were stunned by how simple a "fix" it could have been to prevent his accident. The students could not believe that safety wasn't always top priority. I had numerous discussions with different grade levels of students. They said it was a bad message that he was able to turn into a good message. Daniel has a way of speaking that engages youth.

Cheryl,
Teacher, Leslieville AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:36:51-06:00

Cheryl,
Teacher, Leslieville AB

I was deeply moved by Daniel’s message and story. The student feedback was very positive. They were stunned by how simple a "fix" it could have been to prevent his accident. The students could not believe that safety wasn't always top priority. I had numerous discussions with different grade levels of students. They said it was a bad message that he was able to turn into a good message. Daniel has a way of speaking that engages youth.
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School Speaking Tours

Kelly Pack

Kelly suffered a devastating injury as the result of a crushing incident on an Alberta job-site in 2015. He joined our speaking team in 2019 and delivered his first 6 engagements during our Spring 2019 tour.

Kelly spoke to students about how the experience affected his life going forward as well as the things that went wrong leading up to the incident. Kelly’s resilience is inspiring and we look forward to many more speaking opportunities with him in the future.


“Very Attentive”

[The students] were very attentive.

They got the message loud and clear. It was an excellent presentation and I appreciate you doing it for us!

Scott,
Teacher, Peace River AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:57:32-06:00

Scott,
Teacher, Peace River AB

[The students] were very attentive. They got the message loud and clear. It was an excellent presentation and I appreciate you doing it for us!

“A Strong Reminder”

It was nice to have someone speak to the students that experienced a worksite injury. It was far more meaningful to them to see a survivor rather than just a presentation.

Many of [my students] will be entering jobs or careers where dangers are present. Seeing the potential effects was a strong reminder of what could happen. I think they will be far more cautious by seeing the potential results of a worksite injury.

Darrel,
Teacher, Sexsmith AB

School Speaking Tours
2019-10-17T11:47:11-06:00

Darrel,
Teacher, Sexsmith AB

It was nice to have someone speak to the students that experienced a worksite injury. It was far more meaningful to them to see a survivor rather than just a presentation. Many of [my students] will be entering jobs or careers where dangers are present. Seeing the potential effects was a strong reminder of what could happen. I think they will be far more cautious by seeing the potential results of a worksite injury.
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School Speaking Tours

Candace Carnahan

Candace was severely injured in a preventable workplace incident while working a summer job at a pulp mill at the age of 21.

After the incident, Candace chose to share her story with audiences across the country with the hope that her story will prevent others from experiencing similar types of devastating workplace incidents.

Candace partnered with Safety in Schools to deliver our first three speaking tours in 2014 and 2015, reaching every major urban center in the province.

Candace is also featured in our Life Lessons – Learning the Hard Way course and Real People, Real Life Video Library.


“A Different Mindset”

The impact on our students was good, they did have a different mindset.

The students appreciated hearing from someone who has experience in the situation. They appreciated that it was a real story and her positive attitude.

Karen,
Teacher, Hanna AB

Safety in Schools
2019-10-17T11:52:05-06:00

Karen,
Teacher, Hanna AB

The impact on our students was good, they did have a different mindset. The students appreciated hearing from someone who has experience in the situation. They appreciated that it was a real story and her positive attitude.

“Constant Vigilance”

The presentation spoke to the need for constant vigilance around moving machines, and taking personal responsibility for your work environment.

Rick,
Teacher, Calgary AB

Safety in Schools
2019-10-17T11:50:06-06:00

Rick,
Teacher, Calgary AB

The presentation spoke to the need for constant vigilance around moving machines, and taking personal responsibility for your work environment.

“Wanted to Hear More”

The presentation had an impact on our students and made them think of their own situations.

They wanted to hear more about what they should be looking for and how to deal with certain situations as well as how to address concerns with employers.

Mamta,
Teacher, Lethbridge AB

Safety in Schools
2019-10-17T11:51:08-06:00

Mamta,
Teacher, Lethbridge AB

The presentation had an impact on our students and made them think of their own situations. They wanted to hear more about what they should be looking for and how to deal with certain situations as well as how to address concerns with employers.

“Opened Our Eyes”

Our students were engaged the entire time.

This is something they don’t often see or discuss. It has begun to open our eyes with respect to making safe choices – to critically be aware of our environment so unnecessary accidents can be avoided.

Emanuele,
Teacher, Calgary AB

Safety in Schools
2019-10-17T11:49:33-06:00

Emanuele,
Teacher, Calgary AB

Our students were engaged the entire time. This is something they don’t often see or discuss. It has begun to open our eyes with respect to making safe choices – to critically be aware of our environment so unnecessary accidents can be avoided.
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Safety in Schools