Life Force

The creative power of nature is unsurpassable. How do we manage to draw strength again and again?

The story of Aude Jardin

"An abscess was pressing on my spinal cord, which resulted in incomplete paraplegia. This happened in June 2003 when I was 22 years old. My life was chaotic before the diagnosis. I had never really found my place in society and had no goals. And then I got the diagnosis of a spinal cord injury. It stretched me to my limits.

After surgery, I was transferred to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre for rehabilitation. Here, I was looked after for ten months and the therapies and activities were good for me. Talking to other patients and experiencing solidarity with them were a great support for me. Gradually I found a perspective and realised that I wanted to find my way back into society. When I reached the point where I’d had enough of all the obstacles, I turned them into goals to overcome. Today I no longer let problems discourage me, but instead I look for solutions. Maybe that’s where my life force is found today."

"I changed my attitude and transformed limitations into goals."
Aude Jardin, paraplegia since 2003

Overview stories Beacons of Hope

Inhaling life force

Weaning people off a ventilation device is one of the core competencies at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre. Manuela Broger is a specialist nurse and head of RespiCare who supports patients on their journey towards breathing independently. She tells us about battles and hope in a situation that is unimaginable for people who have not experienced it.

The rose is a symbol of life force

Since ancient times, red roses have been a symbol of love, joy and youthfulness. Fertility and life on earth in general are represented by the red rose. With its gentle fragrance, it is a sign of grace and beauty, while its thorns represent pain, blood and suffering.

In Christianity, rose tendrils were the symbol of eternal life blossoming from death. This is why the best-known Catholic prayer and the associated prayer chain are known as the “rosary”.

Ancient myths offer various explanations for the origin of roses: they are a remnant of dawn on earth, they rose out of the foam of the ocean with Aphrodite, or they originated from the blood of Adonis.


About the metal sculpture: The rose bloom is a work by metal artist Joe Meyer. His artistic implementation was inspired by the following thought:

"Our existence with all its facets and miracles is best seen in nature."

We support people with spinal cord injuries. Throughout their lives.

  • Very few people are aware of the fact that a spinal cord injury means much more than being in a wheelchair. It results in momentous turning points in the life of people with a spinal cord injury. The loss of mobility, no longer being able to walk, maybe only having limited use of your arms are one aspect of it. The loss of bladder and bowel functions, sexual functions, sensory functions and other things are another.

  • The rose garden

    On the occasion of the “700 years of the Swiss Confederation” celebrations, the Swiss Society of the Friends of the Rose gave the Swiss Paraplegic Centre a rose garden. Members of the society, which was founded in 1959, wanted to bring some joy to people with health disadvantages and financed the garden by the Swiss Paraplegic Centre with the title “Roses for your eyes and heart”. The Guido A. Zäch rose can also be admired there.


    A Guido A. Zäch rose

    It was in early summer 1995 when members of staff of the Swiss Paraplegic Centre were thinking about what they could get their boss for his 60th birthday. Gabriela Hammer, Head of the “Economics” department at the time, came up with the idea of a Guido A. Zäch rose and contacted recognised rose cultivator Richard Huber in Dottikon. “He smiled and told me that roses aren't released for trade until about ten years after they have been bred. After he also explained that only about three roses a year are nominated for a project of this kind, I soon realised that the birthday present wasn't going to work. Later I went back with Silvia Buscher, a Member of the Board of Trustees. We visited the rose cultures with more than 200,000 rose bushes. This made a profound impression on us and we learnt that this was a specialist area very similar to viticulture. It’s all about care, i.e. pruning, watering, winter care, and so on.”

    At this point, Gabriela Hammer and Silvia Buscher decided to reserve a rose so that Guido Zäch would get a two-coloured rose for his 65th birthday. They found one that had already been cultivated and planted, which guaranteed that the project would be completed in time. “The lower part of the flower is yellow and the rest is red. Dark red. And it has an enchantingly delicate and fragrant smell. We wanted it to be something lasting, but also something very special”, adds Gabriela Hammer.

    As 1 October is not in the rose season, Guido A. Zäch was only given a faded rose bush for his birthday, but he also received a massive bunch of “his” roses. Dyana Frei-Huber, the daughter of rose cultivator Richard Huber of Dottikon, presented the flowers. And it goes without saying that all the members of staff who had contributed financially gathered in the entrance hall to admire the gift.

    Although the rose bush had already faded, it contained the power of spring, the urge to produce more shoots and thus more flowers. Markus Gabriel, the centre's gardener, later planted it in the ground outside. Since then, the splendid roses have bloomed year after year, providing great joy for patients, guests and members of staff.

    In Dottikon, about five hundred new Guido A. Zäch roses are grafted from the original unique specimen each year. Dyana Frei-Huber explains: “With this quantity, you can assume a harvest of about ten per cent, which means there are about fifty new Guido A. Zäch rose bushes.” These are purchased by members of staff, friends, patients and their relatives, by rose lovers who are in the know, or are planted in pots on the balcony. Dyana Frei is delighted and proud to tell us that the Guido A. Zäch rose was awarded a gold medal at the “Rose Test Garden” in Rome in 2001.

    Source: Guido A. Zäch – ohne Wenn und Aber (Guido A. Zäch – no ifs or buts), Trudi von Fellenberg, Huber publishing house, Frauenfeld (2005).

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