When Wayne Moorehead arrived at his first Skills for Life Workshop in 2018, he crossed paths with one of his doctors, who was there as a guest speaker.
“They were shocked to see me,” Moorehead remembers. “They were like: ‘Didn’t we just discharge you earlier today?’”
It was true. Moorehead, his limbs still bandaged after quadruple amputation a few weeks earlier, had gone directly from his Houston rehab hospital to Skills for Life at a nearby hotel. He was looking for practical information to help him adapt to life with no hands or feet. But more than that, Moorehead sought reassurance that his life wasn’t over.
“I just didn’t know what was next for me,” he says. “When I got to Skills for Life, it was such an eye opener. Here were all these people wearing prosthetic arms, walking on prosthetic legs, and doing everything I was going to need to learn how to do. It changed my life, it really did.”
Now an adept navigator of the limb-loss waters, Moorehead hopes to change other lives for the better at the 2022 Skills for Life Workshop, which takes place October 5-8 in Houston. Designed specifically for bilateral upper-limb amputees and quad amputees, the conference offers useful tips, tools, and techniques for healthy day-to-day living, along with social and recreational events to build a sense of community among people missing multiple limbs.
“I saw what an impact it could have to get people together,” says occupational therapist Shawn Johnson, who has attended every workshop since the first Skills for Life in 2002. The workshop has been held roughly once every three years ever since, with occasional gaps for one reason or another.
Over that time, Johnson has seen the event blossom from a small local gathering into a global happening that draws people from all over the United States and overseas. She now serves as the workshops’ chairperson and presides over the affiliated nonprofit, Enhancing Skills for Life, which Johnson founded in 2017. In addition to organizing the triennial conference, Enhancing Skills for Life sponsors educational webinars and just-for-fun outings such as bowling tournaments, adaptive golf clinics, bicycle rides, and ski weekends.
As always, the Skills for Life program will cover practical subjects such as meal prep, dressing, grooming, bathing, and other activities of daily living. Additional sessions will focus on home modification, driving, employment, sex, and building connections on social media. And the social calendar includes diversions such as adaptive gaming, wheelchair rugby, swimming, and art activities.
Moorehead will be leading a couple of sessions at this year’s conference, but he’s also looking forward to picking up some new pointers. “There’s always something new to learn whenever you spend time with other amputees,” he says.
To register for the Skills for Life Workshop, log on at enhancingskillsforlife.org and click the Events tab. Registration is free for people with limb difference, and scholarships are available to help cover travel and lodging costs.