Friday Mar 25, 2022

DDA speaks with Krystian Shaw, publisher of the Kamloops Self Advocate

Krystian Shaw was never expected to read or write. With dogged determination and a steel resolve, he is now the publisher of a 12-page newsletter he distributes in Kamloops B.C.



Evan Kelly  0:03  
Welcome to DDA's encouraging abilities podcast. I'm Evan Kelly. And our goal is to make our stories more accessible to enlighten people as to who we are, what we do and why. We also want to help others in the disability community tell their stories. Whether it's talking about new government policy, new business ventures or amazing achievements, you'll find it here. Our topics will focus on the developmental disability community, their caregivers, family members, we will talk to self advocates, experts in the field and members of the government, and even our own staff who are doing great things through adaptive technology, advocacy, support, and much more. Our guest today is Krystian Shaw and his mom Linda. Now Krystian is a very well known self advocate who lives in Kamloops, Krystian had dreams of being a professional in the field of media. And through determination and hard work, he developed the Kamloops self advocate, putting Kamloops on the map newsletter that now reaches far beyond the BC borders. Thanks for joining us. Kicking it off right now like Krystian, why did you start this newsletter in the first place,

Krystian Shaw  1:08  
Because I wanted to work in the disability field. Because people gave me a lot of support when I was younger, and during my adulthood. And I wanted to return the favour and support people with diverse abilities, just like I was supported when I was younger. But I couldn't go to university to get a college degree. Because I have some challenges of my own.

Evan Kelly  1:46  
Now I just pulled out your latest addition here, Krystian, it's really good. It's got lots of information, 12 pages long. You've got Krystian's corner, where you talk about some of your thoughts and feelings on things. You've got poetry, there's recipes, there's interviews, you're covering a lot of stuff. Now, Linda, you were told when he was born, the doctor said basically that he would not be able to read and write. Now he's publishing his own newsletter. Can you speak a little bit to this?

Linda  2:17  
Yeah, when he was born, he was premature. And he was five months old before he came home for the first time from the hospital. And he was still on oxygen when he came home. And they said that the chances of him reading or writing was slim to none. And they even told the schools not to bother teaching him to read. And that he couldn't retain it. And he couldn't retain phonics and things like that. So no one, none of the teachers would teach him. So I would try to teach him and yeah, he wouldn't retain it, but we kept it up and kept it up. Finally, in grade six, a teacher decided to go against what they had said in the reports, and went and got him some books from Costco on long vowel sounds and short vowel sounds, and taught him how to read and surprised all he she did it with all the class and surprised all the mothers at the end of the year for them to come for, you know, a teacher conference or whatever and, and students were the students were, and they read to us for the first time, which was really shocking. And then Krystian's had a computer ever since he was seven years old. And people were shocked at how he could get through and navigate the computer even though he couldn't read. They didn't believe me when I said he couldn't read because he was so good at it. And I thought, well, that's how, you know, ones that are illiterate, they can fool people because they do it through signs and through, you know, symbols and things like that. And so then, after that, he, when he started to read he wanted to go to university to at least take a life skills course, I mean Work Experience course. And but they said he had to read and write in order to do it. And so he got on the computer and he started teaching himself after he'd learned the basics. And by grade nine or 10, or whatever, he was really good at reading. And by the time he got out of school, he was a fluent reader and writer and, and speller. And so then he went to university to do the life skills course for three years. And he took retail then, but he didn't really like retail. And that's when he said, you know, Mom, I want to do something that I can do with my, to help other people that are special needs too that's what I really want. And so then somebody suggested to him to start a newsletter. And so he started asking around about it. And he ended up going to New Horizons and asked Justine Richmond, if you know about it, and she said, You know, I can help you to do that, and if that's what you really want to do. And so the rest is history. I mean, they got him involved in all the right people. And, and it just hit off.

Evan Kelly  5:53  
So Krystian, how long have you been producing your newsletter?

Krystian Shaw  5:56  
Since September of 2013.

Evan Kelly  6:00  
Oh, so it's for years now. Now, is it something that is growing? Did you start out at one page and build it up to the 12 that it is now?

Linda  6:09  
Started out at four pages, and now it's what, eight to 12.

Evan Kelly  6:14  
Eight, eight pages is offline, eight pages online, it doesn't matter online. Any amount you want online, except in print in print is eight. Online is 12. Online.

Linda  6:35  
They get a little bit more info online.

Evan Kelly  6:40  
Well, that sounds really good. Now Krystian, what are some of the things you like to write about?

Krystian Shaw  6:46  
I have interviewed the campaign, from Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, they did an interview with me because they have a campaign and to deal with people with disabilities and medical complexity and other kinds of disabilities. And they have a campaign called Dear Everybody and they talk about ableism. And this year, they're focusing on ableism. And they do workshops for people outside of Toronto, for example, online. If they're not in their area, they do it online instead. And I asked Justine to inquire about it for Kamloops for for her program stuff. Because I wants to take the workshop, and learn more.

Evan Kelly  7:57  
So you'd like to give back you'd like to talk a lot about what's going on in the disability community. I noticed your newsletter talks a lot about music, too. Are you a big music fan?

Krystian Shaw  8:08  
Yeah. And I wanted to make this newsletter appeal to everyone, not just people with diverse abilities. I wanted to make this newsletter appeal to everyone. Such as caregivers, support workers, family members, people in the community, not just disability awareness to cover all different topics.

Evan Kelly  8:42  
It sounds like you're doing a really great job covering all these topics. Do you have a favorite style of music you like to listen to?

Krystian Shaw  8:50  
I like pop too.

Evan Kelly  8:52  
Putting something like this together is not an easy task, Krystian. So how did you learn to do all this stuff? I mean, there's formatting involved, there's taking pictures, there's uploading things, there's editing all these pieces together. It's quite a process.

Krystian Shaw  9:06  
Justine from the New Horizons, professional support services. And the community companion program who she works for she taught me ever since I started how to do it. And she, and before it's taken up 10 hours of her personal life to do it with because she doesn't get paid for my newsletter. So she did it for 10 hours and then it was getting too much for her too much. Then see taught me how to do it on my own. And now she only edits.

Evan Kelly  9:19  
So how long does it take you to put one of the editions together?

Krystian Shaw  10:02  
Um, two weeks, about two weeks. I start on the beginning of the month until the 15th.

Evan Kelly  10:12  
That sounds like a lot of work. So Krystian, how does it feel when you're finished an edition, tell me about that.

Krystian Shaw  10:19  
Good. And I also share it on a safe, fairly safe website called Ability online and self advocate net, ability online. It's a website for kids, youth, adults, parents, professionals, and it gives support to each other and they have different sections of the website for for different age groups and different people.

Evan Kelly  10:58  
Well, that sounds great. So once it's printed, where do you distribute your newsletter to?

Krystian Shaw  11:05  
To coffee shops, to service providers, to food places online, and stuff like that.

Evan Kelly  11:19  
So tell me what happens once once you've got it printed you just put on your running shoes and head out the door and distributed yourself.

Krystian Shaw  11:26  
Nope, with support of course, with support.

Linda  11:29  
He gets a ride in a car and they they drive him and he runs out and delivers them. It's all over Kamloops. Like it's everywhere. There's at least 20 or 30 places anyway.

Krystian Shaw  11:47  
I deliver to different areas in town such as the North Shore, downtown, and uptown in Sahali. Even to my apartment building.

Linda  11:50  
Yeah, because they enjoy the newsletter.

Evan Kelly  12:07  
Yeah, of course they do, we out here in Vancouver don't get it, we'll have to rely on the online version. Now Krystian you generate, you put ads on your paper and so does this generate income for you?

Krystian Shaw  12:18  
Yep. And they give me honorariums. I give myself, an honorarium. I give other contributors an honorarium, and I have enough money to pay honorariums now, when I first started - and expenses - when I first started it was hard to pay people. I pay people every three months as funds allow and funds are allowed now because I make enough.

Evan Kelly  13:00  
Well, you have a legitimate business running there Krystian. Now just to change the topic a little bit and going a little deeper, why is being a self advocate so important to you?

Krystian Shaw  13:12  
Because you can help people.

Linda  13:17  
Krystian has always wanted to right the wrong ever since he was little. If he thought something was wrong, he was a go getter and a fighter wanting to make change. He's always been that way. So he's just constantly wanting to right the wrongs.

Evan Kelly  13:38  
That's very noble Krystian and obviously very, very inspiring, inspiring to a lot of people. Did you do anything for Pink Shirt Day this year?

Krystian Shaw  13:46  
Yep, articles.

Linda  13:49  
You had a group on Zoom, where you all wore your, you all wore your T-shirts, and your, your pink shirts.

Krystian Shaw  14:01  
Yeah, with Justine's program, they were holding an event online that people can wear their pink shirts. And they did videos from YouTube with different countries and talked a little bit about what their country does, and stuff like that and what their culture is like, as well as they celebrate Pink Shirt Day too, but in different months.

Evan Kelly  14:37  
Now the COVID pandemic has been difficult on the disability community, we know this. So how have you two been able to cope, you know, for the last couple of years?

I was very good because before COVID got a little bit better and more better. It was only online. But now it's offline again. Now it's offline again.

Linda  15:06  
We've had it a little tough though, because Krystian got COVID. March the 2020, like right after the shutdown, within a couple of weeks, he got COVID. And he's in the hospital for a week. But it wasn't, it wasn't really bad. He didn't have to be in intensive care anything. And then this January, at the end of the month, I got COVID and I've had three shots. So it's, it's serious, but we tried to like, it's easier for Krystian because he's a homebody anyway. So he likes to stay at home and just do his newsletter and, and talk on the phone or, or go on Zoom or whatever. So that's pretty easy. And I'm the same way, I like to be be home too. So it's, it didn't you know, neither one of us got cabin fever or anything like that. You know, we're, we still were trying to be safe.

Evan Kelly  16:13  
Well, we're all still here and Krystian, you're producing some excellent, excellent content for Kamloops and everyone online. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we sign off?

Krystian Shaw  16:22  
Um, I would like to say thank you to all my support people, as well as Justine from the community companion program. Thanks for my readers too.

Evan Kelly  16:38  
Krystian, I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks again, so much, for Krystian Shaw and his mom Linda, it's been a pleasure to have you on the podcast. You have been listening to the DDA encouraging abilities podcast. Our guest today was Krystian Shaw, author and publisher of the Kamloops self advocate putting Kamloops on the map newsletter. He can be found on Facebook and on his website at Thanks for tuning in for DDA's encouraging abilities podcast. I'm Evan Kelly.


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