Doctors once said Krystian Shaw would never read nor write.
Shaw, who was born with developmental disabilities, would not only prove those doctors wrong, he would go on to create his own newsletter and, most recently, a podcast, both focused on self-advocacy.
Specifically, Shaw said his work is meant to focus on “disability awareness and success stories to help reduce stigma and discrimination around all people.”
The 29-year-old started the newsletter in September 2013 to tell the stories of others with disabilities.
“Because I live with developmental disabilities, an anxiety disorder and ADHD, I can relate to people’s experiences so they will feel more comfortable opening up to me because I know what they’re going through in life,” Shaw said.
Self-advocacy is a movement about people with disabilities standing up for themselves and, according to Shaw’s mother, Linda, it’s something he has been doing his entire life.
“He was a self-advocate before he even knew what a self-advocate was,” she said.
“He did go to university for three years to learn about a trade, but that didn’t satisfy him at all.”
She said her son was more interested in pursuing a career that would allow him to help others with disabilities.
And, after some encouragement, that’s exactly what he started to do through his newsletter.
Shaw said assistance from people like Justine Richmond of the Community Companion Program at New Horizons Professional Support Services helped him get the ball rolling.
Advertising from local businesses supports the newsletter, which is distributed to service providers, businesses and coffee shops around Kamloops.
As successful as it’s been, Shaw is hoping to expand the venture.
“I want to make it go international,” he said.
“Because I want to help reduce stigma on the international level, as well as in Kamloops.”
Shaw is always on the lookout for people to submit to his newsletter or to be featured on his podcast.
Those interested in reaching out to him can contact Krystian Shaw via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on his newsletter and podcast can be found online at selfadvocatenet.com/kamloops-self-advocate-newsletter.