Krystian’s Inclusion Story

My name is Krystian Shaw and I embrace inclusion and diverse abilities.

My name is Krystian Shaw and I embrace inclusion and diverse abilities.

I have diverse abilities and in some ways, I am differently abled.

Not too long ago, you wouldn’t think those who are differently abled could mingle or be included with the general public. Thanks to the hard work of Community Living British Columbiaand their advocates as well as self-advocates, that reality has changed.

I used to struggle to thrive. I was so thin as a child. But now, as an adult, I have gained a lot of weight. As a result, health problems set in. I now have Type 2 diabetes. So I really wanted to work out. But exercise can be hard when you do it alone.

I wanted a workout buddy. So I put the word out on facebook. Somebody from the general public answered me. She happened to be someone studying at the University to be an advocate. That bonded us together right away. She was excited to have a workout buddy too. I had already signed up for Planet Fitness and I am allowed to bring a friend with me for free.

My workout buddy used to be a fitness coach and she loves passing along the knowledge to other people about how to keep motivated and fit and healthy. Her name is Nikki.

I want to be fit for my mental health and for my physical body. I have an anxiety disorder and Nikki really supports me around my mental health issues and my overall well being. I am so thankful she came into my life. I look forward to exercising now and we make it a fun time together.

That’s what inclusion is all about; enjoying different activities with others regardless of whether we are differently abled or not. We all need to embrace everyone within society because we have more similarities than differences. If we give each other a chance, we will find out we can all learn from each other.

I was so anxious when we went to exercise for the first time. I didn’t want to disappoint her. I worried her expectations would be too high. I ended up with a nose bleed that took over half an hour to get under control. We weren’t able to exercise that day as a result. But I got to meet her and she was very understanding. We made arrangements to exercise a few days later.

After that, I felt very relaxed with her. I am glad I have a companion and a peer who I can count on for friendship and support. I hope this will grow into a lasting friendship as long term workout buddies, as I’m working toward my goal to lose weight. I am determined to keep up my commitment with her.

This is a great example of inclusion in friendships. I also created a secret/private group only for Nikki and me to make plans as workout buddies and to post motivational stuff and quotes and videos etc about our weight loss journey. Losing weight is a bonus but I also want to exercise for my mental health.

Inclusion means not excluding anyone and Nikki is a perfect example of true inclusion thinking. No one should be excluded because of their challenges or limitations in life. Inclusion allows us to educate others about our abilities, limitations and challenges. Canada and British Columbia in particular has really gone far to make things better for all of us and for society as well.

Krystian’s article was first published by Self Advocate Net at

Story | 04.04.18

community, Inclusion, intellectual disabilities, Canada, Story

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