Contributed by Nathan Shipley
My name is Nathan Shipley and I am a young man rolling through life, trying to live to my fullest potential. I have Cerebral Palsy and use a wheelchair to get around. Throughout my life, despite having a severe physical disability, I have learned the power of HOPE, FREEDOM and INSPIRATION.
Throughout my childhood, I had several surgeries, including arm, hand and major hip surgeries. These have all required extensive rehabilitation, and was a very painful and difficult time for me in my childhood. In 2014, with support from my family, friends and school community, I graduated high school! During this time, my peers were making plans for post-secondary education and starting their careers. I, however had to focus on finding supports and make a plan for adulthood and how I could achieve more independence.
This has been a challenging, ongoing process. After looking into a number of programs, it became clear that they were not feasible to pursue and many could not be adapted to suit my needs. This was discouraging but I was determined to find something. I was then referred to a Customized Employment Specialist. After doing a number of assessments, they then suggested I start my own business. Due to my physical disability, I am unable to use my hands or feet, but throughout my life my dad has always reminded me that I have a voice. So, with this encouragement and support of my family and friends I started “Rolling with Nathan” in 2019.
Right when I was looking into speaking engagements in my community, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Unable to book in-person presentations, I had to think outside the box and change the direction I wanted to go. After some brainstorming, perseverance, family support and help from my support worker, I was able to build a plan based on virtual presentations only and also assist by speaking to our in-demand Health Sciences students. As someone who has received care and support throughout my whole life, I figured what better person to speak to Health Care Aide and Nursing students. It was tough to convince the schools to hire me to speak, especially with the online learning that was thrust upon them, but once I presented, almost every institution rebooked me for their next intake of students.
In the beginning I focused on contacting schools that were in my local area (so I could speak in person post-COVID-19). After very positive feedback and realizing COVID-19 wasn’t going away anytime soon, I decided to branch out to institutions in other provinces. Business has been booming ever since! I have been welcomed into many online classrooms and now speak to audiences all throughout Canada. Other programs and organizations have also hired me to speak to their staff, volunteers, and management teams.
I look at myself as abled, rather than disabled. While virtual platforms have been challenging for so many, for me it has opened so many doors. They allow for more inclusion and have made many more things accessible for so many people. I plan to continue creating new opportunities for myself and help educate others along the way.
You can find videos of Nathan speaking, learn more about his work, and contact him by visiting his website: www.rollingwithnathan.weebly.com