By Nathan Shipley
My name is Nathan and I am 21 years old. I was born eight weeks premature and soon after my birth my parents found out I had a stroke, likely before I was born, which would significantly affect my motor skills. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, at a very young age. What this means is that all four of my limbs are affected. I use a power wheelchair for mobility and I have some use of my left hand. I have had many surgeries, including major hip surgeries which required me to basically be in cast from my chest to my ankles for several weeks.
Despite all the challenges that came with my diagnosis my parents decided that the most important thing for my life would be to never be limited by disability. As a result I have been fortunate to be involved in a variety of community activities and adapted sports, such as therapeutic horseback riding, swimming, adapted skiing, soccer, sailing and others. Through these activities I have been able to meet a variety of different people, such as the Canadian sledge hockey team and Canada’s former Governor General, Michaelle Jean. Currently I go to my neighborhood gym where I work with a staff member in the weight room.
Living a positive life
My parents pushed me to start going to Easter Seals camps when I was thirteen. This has been an invaluable experience for me as I got to meet and hang out with other teenagers with disabilities. I had the opportunity to become an Easter Seals ambassador where I was able to help host the Timmy’s telethon one year and attend fundraising events representing Easter Seals. I like to be active in my community and raise awareness about cerebral palsy. This is important to me because frequently people with disabilities are viewed as being extremely limited in their lives, unemployable and unable to meaningfully contribute to society. In reality, at least for me, I accept that I have challenges and sometimes things are difficult, but I believe I live a full life and my disability is just part of who I am. I choose to live a positive life looking at the things I can do.