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Tuesday, 15 January 2008




Keith Jansz is a member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (www.mfpa.co.uk). He paints by holding a paintbrush in his mouth following a car accident in 1995, which left him paralysed from the neck down. On the 19th January 2008, Keith is off to Åre, Sweden with a charity called The Back-Up Trust; a national charity that supports people; young or old with spinal cord injury. His trip is part of a Winter Course organised by the charity to enable first time tetraplegics skiers to ski. The aim is to gain a ski licence enabling participants to ski independently. Keith will be part of a group of six disabled skiers

Keith says, “I used to be a keen skier and snowboarder before my accident but never imagined, with my level of paralysis, that I'd ever do it again. However, I'm going to Åre in Sweden to the National Ski School for the Disabled with the organisation 'Back-Up'.

“They run sports courses for spinally injured people, the idea being to promote individual learning and independence through activity - not 'disabled holidays' but real challenges to stretch you. The really scary thing is that I have to go by myself, they have a team of spinal nurses and you have an able-bodied 'buddy' but no one that I know - and no wife! The skiing will be a doddle, its everything else that will be tough but I'm really excited about it and am looking forward to being inspired by all that snow and great light.”

The buddies are untrained, from all walks of life, who are volunteering their time in exchange for a different experience, helping those in wheelchairs and getting a bit of free skiing.

The Back-Up Trust’s winter courses offer without a doubt the most unforgettable and inspirational experience of all the Back-Up courses for the spinally injured participants, carers and buddies alike.

The week long courses run in the USA, France and Sweden offer an opportunity to experience complete freedom and independence in breathtaking locations. As with all the courses it is not just about the skiing but also the social side as well as having a chance to overcome the additional challenges of air travel, being in a foreign country for the first time post injury and staying in unfamiliar accommodation – all with the support of Back-Up.

Keith Continues, “I recently read a fascinating article about British Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans going skiing in the States. It was a really inspiring feature and has fired me up even more. I feel as if this trip will be my getting back to really being me again!”

Back-up: http://www.backuptrust.org.uk/

Keith Jansz Biography

Keith Jansz started painting for the first time since junior school after having run the London Marathon for Barnardo’s in 1995. Just two months later he suffered a broken neck in a tragic car accident, resulting in complete paralysis from the shoulders down. After 7 months in the Spinal Unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Keith returned home to begin the painful process of adjusting to his new situation. Unable to do anything for himself Keith naturally experienced the depths of despair.

In December 1996 Keith’s mother-in-law gave him a book entitled “Painters First”, a collection of biographies of the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists. Keith was able to empathise with the artists tragic stories, and was inspired by reading of their triumphs and successes. Eager to encourage this spark of interest Keith’s wife, Cindy, arranged a meeting with the mouth artist Trevor Wells who persuaded him to try holding a brush in his mouth to paint. Despite disastrous early efforts Keith persevered and in 1998 he was accepted as a student artist by the international self help organisation, the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

This achievement spurred Keith on to work with such dedication that his painting skills improved dramatically and in 2000 Keith was promoted to a full member within the Association. Since then Keith’s paintings have been sold as reproductions worldwide. He has held a number of solo exhibitions in the UK and his paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world including Lisbon, Madrid, Copenhagen, Shanghai and Atlanta.

Keith enjoys exploring the sensations of light in his paintings, from the sparkling, reflective sunlight at the beach, to the unique atmospheric light of Venice and the long shadows of winter light on snow. Keith also enjoys the demanding discipline of the human figure, in pastel or oil. For him, to paint is to feel as his brush dances across the canvas!
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