This month I am proud to introduce Nathan Shipley to the show. This interview is more of an authentic conversation between two people with unique types of Cerebral Palsy. Where we make each other laugh and have a valuable and relatable conversation.
This was such an eye-opening interview because Nathan was born with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Quadriplegia. In this interview we learn what life was like for Nathan when he was in elementary and high school. Back then accessibility was not a high priority which made it harder for the diverse community. It is cool to see how society has adapted to include more nowadays, in such ways of making universal design part of the standards. Hiring people with multi talents and engineers to point out potential barriers to all types of people. We also talked about barriers, success and accommodations required for Nathan to graduate secondary school with a dogwood living with what must be a dark feeling to have that type of diverse need and feel and need to be very reliable on others to live your life to its fullest potential. Happy listening and I hope you all enjoy this fascinating episode with Nathan Founder of Rolling With Nathan. Congratulations Nathan.
Please view MMP Podcast with Nathan Shipley transcript
Hello everyone. Today we are introducing Nathan Shipley to the Meeting Mighty People Podcast. Nathan Shipley is a member of the BC Cerebral Palsy Association. He’s also the founder of Rolling With Nathan, a business that he created where he goes and speaks to many different nurses and speaks to organizations that help people with disabilities.
He all around just created this business just to help people know, understand the importance of deal, how to deal with people with disabilities.
Why don’t you tell us about yourself
First off I would like to acknowledge with gratitude that I’m coming to you today from the Unceded traditional territory of the semiahmoo first nation and the broader territory of the coast salish peoples, and I’m very happy to be able to do this for you today.
My name is Nathan Shipley. I’m 27 years old and I live with cerebral palsy Quadriplegia, which affects all four of my limbs, which is why I use a power wheelchair full-time. And I actually, over in the corner, I do have a, uh, required the assistance of a service animal as well. So. Awesome.
What has been your most life-changing, um, accomplishment?
Um, sure. , I, um, one of my, um, most life changing accomplishments or one of my, um, greatest accomplishments, at least, I think, anyway, it’s graduating high school. That took a lot of time to focus as it does for everybody. And I’m sure Alexis, you can, you can attest to that, but for me, it took our accommodation support.
So that would. Doing every second question if there was a test, you know, so a lot of accommodation and support and a lot of support from the EA team in the school environment.
Is there something they did that you really noticed made a difference?
Uh, well, well, not, not specifically, but I would say. It really helps when you have EA that really knows the students really well and knows what works from their accommodations.
Like if you have the right IEP, which is the individualized education plan, and it’s followed properly, then the, uh, then you’re able to be accommodated properly in the school environment. And once the EA knows, um, what your needs are. Um, Then, um, they can accommodate you properly or make changes as things happen.
Can you tell us about your struggles dealing with daily living?
Um, sure. Uh, so I require, um, 24 7,, support. So what I mean by that is I need somebody to help me with all my ADLs. Eating. So my food needs to be cut out. My, um, you know, I need somebody to help me drive my van, tell me to go to the, like, transfer on and off the toilet, showering, all those basic, um, everything.
Basically somebody that is able bodied that can do for themselves I would need help with. So I have somebody, I, I have somebody that helps me with those things. , um, awesome. Must be a struggle and a half sometimes . Well, it, it, well, I don’t wanna sugarcoat it. I mean, thankfully in the province of BC we have the CSIL program, which provides funding through the health authorities to get funding so we can hire our own supports.
we’re very thankful for that. There is still, um, struggles. I don’t know how you want me to say it, like struggles or, um, or there’s still gaps in that service, but I gotta be very careful what, what I say. The program is very good, but there’s always room for improvement. Yes.
Um, does that your challenges with daily living relate to how you needed a special IEP at all?
Um, no, because the IEP in terms of the education was in terms of the education setting. Um, so that was totally separate. Like I needed, uh, help in the school so I could go to the washroom, but that didn’t really affect the I IEP cuz when somebody, um, refers to the IEP, it’s basically their education , I adapt patients, um, um, they require.
I don’t know if you have one, but you can, I’m sure you can relate to those as well. Yes.
Um, is there anything you found super helpful that you really, really liked about your EA or is it just common getting to know them?
Uh, uh, just to your second point there is that, um, it is very, it is just common getting to know them and reading their IEP, but it’s.
you don’t know what an IEP is individualized education plan. So people who have needs, um, like special education needs, they have IEPs, um, which are, which will tell the school basically, um, after being done by a psychologist, they will tell the school how to best accommodate the individual.
it. Um, and did you have specialized services within the school that really helped you get along with school better?
Uh, when I was in high school, I basically, um, in the higher grades, I had enlarged text. You know, we would have, u, a scriber, so somebody who would type for me, somebody who would write all those.
But, um, me being in a wheelchair, I wouldn’t be, well, there was like, I’m trying to think. There was something called Kurwell , so I would read to you and there’s another one called Dragon, which I’ve heard under conversations offline that it, sometimes, doesn’t always cooperate with you, but, uh, I’m sure people who’ve used Dragon might be listening to this.
start laughing, but, uh, yes. Yeah, yeah. Act with the computer accidentally coming out with some swear words, but we’re not gonna, do you think repeat,.
Do you think people have better respect after they see our adaptations and what we have to do?
I would say, first of all, um, to your question, that people, um, should have a. Good respect anyway, first of all. Um, but they might have a better understanding of it, um, if that answers the question properly.
Um, do you feel like they would have a better, maybe a better attitude towards adapting things for you?
I feel like educating people is another step towards getting them to understand.
Yeah. I mean, yeah. I mean, once I see it and they’re educated and we explain, I mean, that could definitely, that definitely helps. But I would say one of the biggest, uh, barriers for somebody as a physical disability, and I don’t know about you Alexis, but one of, one of the biggest barriers is the attitudinal barriers as well.
Middle of the show:
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about, just more about your, go more in depth, about your experience and life and attitudinal barriers.
Sure. I mean, there’s always work to do. I mean, you know, like we can advocate, it’s always, it’s getting better, right? It’s getting better, but there’s always work to do. That’s one of the reasons. I started a business in 2019 called Rolling with Nathan, where I basically go into post secondary schools, not going into virtually. And I talk to medical students and, and water communities like in the post secondary world about, you know, Accessibility and my ADLs and how, how to help me because we can start changing attitudes and stuff.
But that’s one of the reasons why I started it. And I often joke with my fabulous support staff that eventually everything will be good and eventually I’ll be out of a job. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s gonna happen unfortunately.
That’s an interesting thought. Can you tell us a little bit more about your business and how it grew and what the purpose of it is? Sure. We know the purpose is to educate, but what does educate mean to you?
That’s, that’s one. Thank you for throwing me under the bus again, I’m just, I’m just making her laugh for all of you that are out there. I’m sure. So, I’m trying to be funny. I started this business in 2019 after many barriers to, you know, post-secondary education, like courses not being at the right time, et cetera.
I unfortunately can’t go into depth about those things cause we will run out of time and it’ll be like two, three hour podcasts where we only have like 30 minutes. So I can’t get into those many details. After wanting to start by speaking to elementary and high schools. Now, this was by the end, by the end of 2019. So when I was just about ready to take bookings, there was this thing called Covid 19 hit. So after pausing it and having a lot of family support they then encouraged me to reach out to post-secondary institutions that, you know, provide educational assistance. So far, but the main thing was healthcare assistance because like I mentioned before, there were many barriers to post secondary education and my family was dad, who, my dad and my mom.
My parents are amazing. .Sure. Alexis’s parents are as well. Yes. They always are. They always encourage me to use my voice as much as you can. Well, you can’t see, but I can’t use my hands at all, so I always make the joke that they might as well hire my fabulous assistant to do the work instead of me if it’s an office.
But they might as well be paying them instead of me because I’d just be sitting around doing nothing. Right. So the challenge was to get, find a job that I could just use my voice instead of, you know, having people help me. I mean, I still need assistance, you know, write the, get the presentations and my support workers do the PowerPoints, et cetera.
But that’s the main thing. Because I use my voice and they really, the students really, really like it because I give them valuable life experience. Cause I’ve heard from a lot of people that I wish you were around when I was in school. Cause you give us practical experiences about what it’s like living with a disability.
Awesome. That’s a great answer. I wish there was more people like us who could give. There should be one in each classroom. Yeah. Well I hope your teacher, well, I shouldn’t say I hope, I don’t hope your teachers aren’t listening, but if you, any of your teachers are listening and they, they want me to come in and do have virtual presentation, I’d be happy to as far, as far as using your voice goes.
That’s the, your voice is amazing. Too. You have? Yeah, because I would say one of the hardest things is getting into the post-secondary institutions, but once I got into them and they realized the service that I was providing, especially during the middle of Covid, they were like, could you please, you know, come back Cuz our students love, you know, that.
Yes, as students get extreme value out of it. And matter of fact, I’m doing a presentation to the Alberta School District grade six class on Friday. Congratulations. That’s a big, big step. And, and you talked about me doing big things. Am I going to throw it back to you cause you’re the runner of this podcast.
you have made huge steps and you should be very proud of yourself because you’re only in grade 10. Yes. So you new guy. We’ve talked offline many times about how you should be very proud of yourself because I wasn’t doing as much as you are in 10, I’ll tell you that much. So what were you doing in grade 10?
I was just, I mean, I mean outside of, outside of school-wise, like, you know, I would do my schoolwork of course, but I wasn’t doing the Meeting Mighty People podcast and doing all these things and you know. Yeah. Well the beauty of it is it’s, it’s called a passion project, so we have entrepreneurial stuff we have to do, so, yeah.
Awesome. Yeah. I should also mention, To going back to your earlier question is that the reason why I started this business in the first place and pivoted to post-secondary in institutions in health, healthcare environments, et cetera, is that as somebody who had a number of surgeries and stuff, Better to educate the nurses about how to deal with us and using the pain scale.
Because our pain tolerance is a little lot higher. Yeah, that’s great news. I mean, more people need to stand up and step up and be a voice. Yeah, I mean, I’d like, I’d like to thank my parents for instilling that into me at a young age, which is what you have to. When you have somebody with a disability, I will say, right, you have to keep them positive.
You have to, yeah. Make them, make them feel like they’re part of a community. Yeah. Because it’s all about how you raise the child, right? That’s what I talk about in my presentation. Yes. You know, it’s all about how you raised a child and I, at least for me, I see people who come from families who may be struggling a little bit.
Have to be careful what I say, but I see the, the attitude has changed, of course. Yeah. It’s and show that to your parents. As I said before, they all obviously raise you very well. Yes. And give you the right attitude to succeed in life as well as my parents did. So they deserve a lot of credit for instilling/listening to us when we were younger, that’s for sure.
Yes. As hard as it was for them when we were growing up is as hard as it is for us right now. Yeah. I mean, but they didn’t stiff as much as the beginning of life for them. They may have viewed it as, hopefully they didn’t, but some people view it as, oh, poor me. Cause my son, son or daughter’s gonna be disabled and their life is ruined.
Right? Yes. But if, if they choose, this is a bit off topic, I apologize. It’s all about the attitude, right? If they choose, okay, well instead of poor me, we’re gonna raise them properly and it’s gonna be normal, I hate that word, normal, but I would say a contributing member of society, which is what? Parents decided to, all the power to them, right?
So yes, they, you have to raise them as a contributing member of society in order for them to succeed with the disability.
You have to, I mean, . That leads me to my next question as referring to our disabilities, we can either be disabled persons or persons First, would you explain why you like your, your language preferences best?
So just to reiterate, you want me to explain my language first? I would say, I would say yes. I, I prefer people. . And what I always tell people if they bring this question up is, we know, I mean, Alexis here, obviously not in a wheelchair, but for me, I, I use a wheelchair. I know I use a wheelchair. I don’t need to be talked down to.
We prefer, I prefer anyway. I mean, I don’t speak for everybody, but I would assume, and this is a pretty strong assumption from what I’ve heard in that most people wanna refer to as a person first. Yes. Which is, which is the way that I would prefer to be. Of course, of course. You know, you get, the occasional elderly people are maybe like, what’s wrong with, you know, what’s wrong with him or why, you know, but that’s an educational opportunity, right.
Yes. And can you maybe explain why people might want to be referred to the other way around? Like as disabled person versus a person first they might be very proud. Their disability in terms of, you know, I have a disability. This is how I grew up. And this is which I am like that too, but I also reiterate like I know I have a disability, right?
Yes. And the other thing too is we also wanna refer to a person’s first language because somebody going back to your earlier point about the hospitals and surgeries that I brought up earlier. Somebody could be newly disabled. So for those listeners who might not understand, what that means is newly disabled, ie car accidents, ie, they’re paralyzed now and they have to be in a chair for the rest of their life.
So that might be embarrassing. Like they might, it might be a new feeling that they might be embarrassed about it. You know what I mean? Hide, yes. Hide themselves. So we don’t. Press disability on them, right? Yes. So I can kind of see, but again, it’s all about what I said before. Is society, the way society views it, right?
Society. So the way society sees people with disabilities, which I hope changes, cause right now we have a separate human rights act, and I hope that changes. What do you think about the separate Human Disability Rights Act? To be honest with you, I haven’t looked into, I haven’t done research into it, so I can’t really get into that.
What kind of act are you referring to? I’m sorry. I, the, the Disability Human Act. People with disabilities have a certain, separate right to the Human, humans have a right, and people with disabilities have a separate right. Yeah. Yeah. I see. I, I kinda from what you’re saying, I kind of disagree with that.
I, I mean, I haven’t studied it, so I don’t wanna make my opinion public about that. But based on what you’re saying, I can kind of, I kind of see where you’re going and I kind of, your stance as well. I mean, human rights is an issue. It’s not much of an issue now in terms of advocating for access because there’s a lot of research now that has come out.
But I will say that it’s still an issue. Yes. There is, there is an incident that I can think of in my there’s a couple instances that I can think of in my situation that I don’t wanna bring up here just because I don’t know where this is gonna make an appearance. So I don’t wanna offend people.
I don’t wanna Yes, lay myself out there, but. That’s an interesting opinion. I have the same opinion as you, and that’s kind of what I wanted to reinforce to the audience, how we have a separate act, a human rights act still, but a separate one compared to able bodied humans.
Well, I will, I will say, I, I haven’t studied it, so I don’t really wanna get into detail about that. So I gotta be really careful, as you said, as well. But I will say for those of you who don’t know, I have able-bodied support people, support workers support, assistance. That doesn’t mean that they have different opinions than I do.
I mean, we may have different opinions, than you and they have the same interests in their life that I do. I mean, everybody’s different, but we are still, we are still human, right? Yes, yes. Just because I’m in a chair. Yes. I have a service dog. We’re not talking about dogs.
We’re about humans. Okay? I just wanna throw that in there. And we’re talking about human rights. So, yeah. Just get them in a chair. have a dog to assist or have another human. And the reason why I’m referring to that is because we’re talking about human rights, right? Yes. So just because I have another human to assist doesn’t mean that human is any different.
Yes, I have a disability, but, and my. Brain bleed at birth that caused me to be, but I’m still a human, right? Yes. You’re still a human. You still deserve the same rights.
I appreciate that answer, Nathan, because that’s what I wanted to get across, right? Have people start considering that we are still humans, although we have to do things differently and daily living activities. Right.
Well, I’m gonna use an analogy here. I don’t know if you remember years ago, I don’t know how many years ago it was Children’s Hospital. They were trying to build a new building, the tech acute care center. So they had this campaign. It was like a superhero campaign.
So what I always tell people is that, The same person as them. I’m just in a chair. But I also, for little kids, I love things saying that I have superpowers. You know, . Because for some people what I do tell them is like, yes, I can’t use my hands, but I made up for it, I may be smarter in different areas than the average.
Like people, you know, average humans, yes. May you not be able to see or hear, but you’re smarter intellectually than others. You’re stronger in other ways than somebody able bodied who has full function of everything would be right. I hope your view, your, and your listeners will understand. I hope so too. Yes.
Well, thank you for today, Nathan. I appreciated your interview and your time. No problem.
If anyone wants to get a hold of me, do you want me to put my website here or do you want me to say it or are you gonna put it in the, I’ll put it in the transcript when I. Okay. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, you’re welcome.
It’s been a pleasure and I hope your listeners enjoy listening.