Overcoming Obstacles Interview Series

Meet Nyree Stevens

Nyree Stevens is a 29 year old Bronx born artist who uses a mouth stick to create art. Ten years ago she was a victim of gun violence sustaining a high level spinal cord injury. Nyree underwent inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation at the Spinal Cord Program at Mount Sinai Hospital. She has stayed an active member of our Life Challenge Program and Women on Wheels support group. She will be participating in her first Art Showcase at the RAW New York City PREMIERE at the Mellrose Ballroom tonight, January 29th at 7pm. For More information on her upcoming show visit:  https://rawartists.com/sittinprettii-
What do you most remember most about your time in rehabilitation at Mount Sinai?
I remember learning how to drive wheelchairs with different joysticks around obstacles, I was determined to drive with my hand which has become more difficult over time but I still haven’t given up. I met many wonderful people. The first time I went outside with one of my therapists was a bittersweet moment as I was seeing people from a different eye level. This was a bit much for me at the time. I remember everyone saying I was so calm and always smiling instead of being angry all the time. I guess I was happy to still be alive so I couldn’t be that mad.
What were the biggest obstacles you faced when transitioning back into the community? 
After leaving the inpatient rehabilitation unit I was ready to get back into the world even though I was still in denial about my injury and how it affected me and I was determined to get back to life as it was before. The hardest part of it all was I had to adjust the a lot of things such as transfers, showers at home, getting dressed which takes like 25 minutes instead of 5 minutes and depending on someone for everything. This definitely humbled me. It’s like a private life didn’t exist anymore. It was hard to overcome, but I’m used to it now.  In the beginning it was very overwhelming.

Were you always interested in painting? What are your other passions?

In middle school I use to draw, but I would say I’m even better now. It’s a bit challenging but that’s the best part for me. Painting gave me a type of independence back which is a great feeling.  My self-therapy also distracts some of my nerve pain which is definitely a good thing, I would say I’m better now than I ever was. Right now I’m most passionate about my art work and advocacy for people with disabilities I would love to become an advocate for people with disabilities because some people take advantage of people who have disabilities which I hate to see. Also I’m most passionate in still becoming a model.

What advice would you give to others who are recently injured or transitioning back into the community after Rehab?

Over the ten years of being injured I can say I’ve really enjoyed some moments such as, skydiving, skiing, water skiing, paragliding etc. I don’t think I would have done these things if I was walking but being that my fear was getting shot and I overcame that. And it allowed me to jump out of a plane which was pretty insane. As I always tell newly injured people, you were given a second chance at life so live it the best way you can. We are chosen for a reason, so always stay humbled. And remember there’s always someone in a worst situation then you. And never keep your depression silence reach out to someone for help.