Jared McIntyre and his determination to live his best life, despite becoming a quadriplegic is an inspirational story for all South Africans.
Bloemfontein, South Africa – Jared McIntyre, an inspirational South African became disabled in 2007 after an accident in Kenton on Sea when he dived into the ocean.
The rugby wheelchair innovator says through his journey with the wheelchair rugby club and frustration of cost of equipment he was motivated enough to look for solutions that will benefit future disabled participants in the sport. Mcintyre was speaking at the World Intellectual Property Day celebrations hosted in Bloemfontein, Free State. The event targeted the general public, youth, academics, small businesses, legal fraternity and government departments involved in the field of intellectual property.
Jared, who had been a gymnast for 18 years, broke two vertebrae in the tragic accident, which left him a quadriplegic, meaning his arms and legs were affected.
“In the beginning, I couldn’t even close my hands, so I used to hold a knife and fork with two hands. That was the kind of challenge that I faced shortly after my accident,”
His story, though, was one of hope and encouragement. Jared believes that there are very few things in life that are constant or guaranteed.
“Two that are, however, are that firstly, you will experience trials and tribulations, and secondly, you will experience change in your life.”
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you approach that challenge or that setback in your life. You can either let that situation overcome you, or are you going to tackle that thing head on? That was a challenge that I faced when I had my accident.”
Gymnastics, he said, had helped prepare him for the drastic change in his life.
“Each day I was in rehabilitation after my accident, I saw as a challenge. Now I have improved my situation. Although there were tough and challenging times, each day was a day that I set out goals for myself to see how I could improve my situation and achieve the most in the time that I was there.”
He now runs the Mustang Wheelchair Rugby Club in Bloemfontein and has dedicated his life to providing support and positive reinforcement through sports to other paraplegics in the region.
Jared was introduced to the sport of wheelchair rugby just two months into rehabilitation. Eager to infect other wheelchair-bound people with the drive to own their bodies, McIntyre started the Mustang Wheelchair Rugby Club in Bloemfontein, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“Life is a choice. You can either choose to sit back in a corner and feel sorry for yourself or you can decide you want to carry on with life and live it to the full. That is something that I chose after my accident. I told myself there was no way that the situation could control my life. There were so many things I wanted to do still and achieve in my life. Don’t let situations control you and focus on what you want to do,” he said.
“You have to make a decision each morning when you wake up on what it is you want to achieve and what your approach is to life. If you’re going to allow the situation to control you, then it’s going to be challenging. But if you decide that you have the opportunity to design and control your future, together with God, then that’s the start to staying positive.”
Jared decided long ago to control his own future and works closely with Tswellang School for the Disabled in Bloemfontein to help young children in wheelchairs to control their own futures. He uses the school to recruit his team players and hopes to one day take wheelchair rugby to a level where paraplegics will be able to partake in it as a competitive sport.
The incredible South African said it was during this time that he came up with an idea to manufacture cost-effective rugby wheelchairs that will move the sport forward in South Africa.
“I approached the CUT to manufacture these rugby wheelchairs at an affordable price that can be made accessible to anyone who had interest in the sport. We then trained two guys who were able to increase the volume and then commercialise, and adapted our manufacturing process to suit children with disabilities and adults who previously had limited participation in the sport,” said Mcintyre.
Mcintyre added that he was in the process of registering the intellectual property for the rugby wheelchair manufacturing process.
“Out of frustration I found a solution that ended up benefiting a lot of people and they are so many ideas out there that people think that are so small and insignificant but actually something like a small idea might be able to change a community or might be able to change someone’s life. I will encourage people not to think of their ideas as insignificant or small but that they should pursue their dream and vision,” he said.
The Senior Manager for Copyrights at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, Mr Kadi Petje, said this year the Intellectual Property Day celebration was successful in pursuing government mandate of educating learners and innovators about Intellectual Property rights and systems.
“The school learners also tasted intellectual property flavour from a variety of partners which gave them value for their participation. There was also a reflection on intellectual property and its socio-economic importance in our daily lives and also the introductory provision responding to technological evolution so that our laws remain relevant to digital platforms,” said Petje.