Lessons from our children: never say never

By Linda Shaw
linda shaw-page

The biggest and most surprising journey of my life has been being Krystian’s mom.

Krystian was born premature. At first, I was told he was delayed, but would catch up. Later I was told he was developmentally delayed and would never catch up, probably never being able to read or write.

When Krystian was seven, I bought him a computer. It was amazing to see how he could use the computer without being able to read. That’s when I realized, with the right supports in place, he can do anything he sets his mind to. School refused to focus on academics for Krystian, so in the end he taught himself to read with my help at home.

He can do anything he sets his mind to

As a teenager, Krystian started to express an interest in wanting to protect the most vulnerable in society, those with diverse abilities.

He wanted to work, but there were no jobs out there he was interested in. His real dream became working with those who had challenges. He wanted to give back after he was given so much.

However, without formal education, his choices seemed limited, so I sent him to leadership and training camp in Squamish where he joined a self advocate support group.  He was also sponsored by his community to attend the Annual Self Advocate Leadership Retreat in Abbotsford. Here he was taught about self-determination and to go after what he wanted in life.

His goal was to eliminate stigma

After the retreat Krystian started to explore how he could create a job for himself. He began to ask around his community to see who could assist him in running his own newsletter business. His goal was to eliminate stigma and discrimination and educate people on what those with challenges can do, not what they can’t do.

A support worker from New Horizons, who believed in Krystian’s dreams, supported him in getting his newsletter started. Then the support he received from CLBC, through Inclusion Kamloops, taught him how to do most of the work himself with minimal support. Krystian’s CLBC facilitator also played a big role.  She helped him to access Community Futures, an organization that teaches people how to start up small businesses. Krystian was the first person with developmental disabilities to be referred.

CLBC and support staff really got to know him

The CLBC facilitator got to really know my son, and worked with Community Futures to teach them how Krystian learned best so they could work with him in the most effective way. After only three years, the Kamloops Self Advocate newsletter has been successful!

One thing Krystian has taught me is to never say never when it comes to his capabilities.

The staff at our local CLBC office has showed faith in Krystian when other agencies had their doubts. After the newsletter was launched, Krystian was invited to a CLBC sponsored Self Advocate Leadership Conference in Kelowna where he met the CLBC Self Advocate Advisor and was invited to be on the CLBC Editorial Board in Vancouver. He flew by himself for the first time! This really increased his independence and confidence.

Krystian’s experience on the CLBC Editorial Board connected him to the Self Advocate Net website where he gets paid to write about his ideas to make society more inclusive and understanding of people with diverse abilities.

This increased his independence and confidence

Caption

Krystian receives a BC Youth Innovation Award from Minister Michelle Stilwell.

I believe the key to Krystian’s success has been receiving a lot of support at home, his connections in community, as well as having the right supports in place from CLBC. Just as important, Krystian wouldn’t be as successful without his own determination to overcome the odds. His hard work and determination are why Krystian is so successful today.

This February my son, Krystian, was one of the 2017 BC Youth Innovation Award winners for his business, the Kamloops Self Advocate newsletter.

I am so proud of him and I love being a part of his journey. I look forward to seeing how Krystian changes society and helps the world see the gifts and abilities of those who are labelled.

My proudest moments are when I see how Krystian has surprised all those who had doubts about his capabilities. The most important gift a parent can give to their child is the insight to know anything is possible when they surround themselves with supportive people. My advice to others is to never limit your sons and daughters.


My Plan: A Guide for Self Advocates

With the help of community, CLBC created a book to help guide adults with developmental disabilities who want to take charge of planning their life.

Click here to read the resource “My Plan”

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