Wednesday, 09 December 2015 15:52

Former Vauxhall resident who battles muscular dystrophy releases travel journal book

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Matthew Skretting has always been known as a fighter.

Growing up in the community of Vauxhall, going to school there, Skretting dealt with a lot as he faced having muscular dystrophy, a disease which effects mostly boys. It’s a cruel disease which erodes muscles in the body.
According to a definition by the Mayo Clinic, “Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. In muscular dystrophy, abnormal genes (mutations) interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle ... Some people who have muscular dystrophy will eventually lose the ability to walk. Some may have trouble breathing or swallowing.”
Even so, Skretting tried not to let it slow him down and now as a man in his 20s and living in Calgary, he continues to push forward working as a landscape and nature photographer.
He has just released a book. Teaming up with his mother Sharon Skretting, an elementary school teacher and author, they wanted to raise awareness about Duchenne’s — one type of Muscular Dystrophy — and show how he has tried to overcome it, in part by his love of travelling.
The book is meant to show how Matthew’s life is a “story of strength.” The book’s images will affect readers emotionally as they appreciate the story behind the photo and the photographer himself.  Take for example the gorgeous shot which serves as the book’s cover. It shows an historic railway tunnel near Kelowna at Myra Canyon Provincial Park. Skretting says he felt this photo symbolized the start of the journey that everyone faces in life.
For his part, Skretting wants the book to show that no matter what challenges people face, they can be overcome.
“I want to show people that regardless of any disabilities you may have it is still possible to accomplish great things and enjoy your life,” Skretting explains. “I had the idea for a Journeys album of photos after going on several trips throughout Alberta, B.C., and the Western U.S. between 2012 and 2014. Early this year my family and I came up with the idea of creating a travel journal with this set of photos so people could reflect on their own travels alongside my photography. The process of creating and publishing the book took about seven to eight months.”
What makes this book different is that each image is accompanied by a quote that “Matt felt embodied the essence he was trying to capture in the photograph.”
There is also space for the book’s owner to add his or her own thoughts “transforming the Journal and ‘Journeys’ into a personal one.”
Skretting first became interested in photography when he was about 13. He  learned most things about photography on his own when he got his first camera. When he got older, he joined the Taber Photography Club and learned a lot from the people that were a part of that group.
This book is his first, but it certainly won’t be the last. Skretting has big plans with two follow ups. Two more journals will be published as a part of The Wander Series. The first, entitled, Reflections,  features “reflective” photos. These are meant to inspire people to add their own life reflections. The second is called, Lights. This journal will feature photos of “light” captured in a variety of settings. This journal will be meant to inspire appreciation for the special people, or “lights”, in people’s lives and/or the beauty that surrounds people every day if they look hard enough.
His family is proud of everything he’s accomplished. His mom Sharon was a big help and he is also supported by his his brother Brock.
“Because of this unique format ‘Journeys’ can be used in many ways — as a coffee table art piece, a personal, friendship or family travel companion documenting trips and adventures as they happen, a goal setting personal journal, or simply as a way of letting someone know you are thinking of them,” explains Brock in a statement. “In any case, it is a true labour of love for my brother who has accomplished a lot in the past few years and would make a special Christmas gift to loved ones — especially to those who are hard to shop for.”
The books are just a start, Matthew plans on doing more.
“In general, I am doing well. I am currently working on a few apps for iPhone and Android which will be coming out next year. The apps will help people find recreational opportunities near them,” he explains.
Those interested in the book can check out the link at:

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