by Krystian Shaw
I wanted a job, and went to Open Door Group hoping to find one, but they couldn’t find me a good fit because my interests are so limited. They felt strongly that I should be doing something that fits my interests but I only liked things to do with the computer. I had dreams for many years about starting my own business but didn’t know how to make it happen.
So one day my friend and neighbour and I were brainstorming ideas about things I could do that were of interest to me. She suggested starting a newsletter. I talked to Justine, who works for the Community Companion Program in Kamloops, about it and she said to go for it and so I did.
I come up with the topics myself. Justine helps me with editing and putting the newsletter together with a software program before it is sent to be printed. I have other people on my team with diverse abilities, as well as workers from CLBC locally. I do the reporting and write-ups on people I interview, and others write stories, recipes or jokes for the newsletter as well. They send in their stories for them to be added to the newsletter.
The newsletter was such a success that I wanted it to become a business. So Open Door Group contracted Community Futures in Kamloops to help me make this happen. Shirley gives me ideas on who to contact for advertising and how to make this into a business for profit. She helps people, usually with physical disabilities, to set up a business for themselves. I’m the first person she’s worked with who has a mental disability.
Our goal as a team is for me to run the newsletter independently by myself, including the editing and even typing out invoices for those who advertise in the newsletter. I will be taught how to do this along with my mom and my community support worker Jolene from Inclusion Kamloops, so that I will still have minimal support if I need it. I’m hoping to be doing this by the end of 2014.
My newsletter focuses on positive things. My goal is for people to start seeing how those with disabilities like myself have more abilities than disabilities. It is for people with diverse abilities – which is everyone. Right now I send out 100 hard copies to service providers each month and many more by e-mail to all those who request a copy. I also post the newsletter each month on my Facebook group called the Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter/Diverse Abilities. Eventually my goal is to have my newsletter in coffee shops and restaurants. But to do this I have to get advertisers. That’s what I am doing now with success.
It is the first anniversary of the Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter. Now I’m going into my second year. Next year I want to do a workshop on self employment and the newsletter at the retreat center with Self Advocate Net.
I want to educate the public on what we can do, not what we can’t do. So anyone with challenges out there, don’t let anyone put limitations on you or say you can’t do something you want to do. If I can run a newsletter business for profit with mental challenges, anyone can with the right support and people to support you in making any dream you may have come true.
If you want more information, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for my newsletters.