Looking Back on a Busy Summer and Looking Forward to Fall!

Summer has gone by so quickly, and I wanted to share some of the events I’ve participated in and the opportunities I’ve had in the past few months.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I attended the Global Pathfinders Summit in Charlottesville, Virginia on May 20-24. The Global Pathfinders Summit celebrated the 400th anniversary of democracy in Virginia and brought together 150 delegates from 50 different countries. During the summit, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the globe. We talked about democracy and global issues, such as corruption, politics, and policies. Then, we participated in service projects and developed a framework for future democracy based on our conversations. When talking about our cultures, I was surprised that other young people face very similar problems that young people in America encounter. I took away from this event the importance of looking at issues globally. If we worked together globally, we could begin to tackle issues that affect us all.

PHOTO: Matthew, outside,In a blue colored shirt, In a photo with five new friends that he met at the Global Pathfinder Summit In Charlottesville Virginia early in the summer.

PHOTO: Matthew, outside,In a blue colored shirt, In a photo with five new friends that he met at the Global Pathfinder Summit In Charlottesville Virginia early in the summer.



PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair, in a black shirt and cap with khaki shorts holding a falcon with a smile on his face. This took place at The No Barriers Summit.

PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair, in a black shirt and cap with khaki shorts holding a falcon with a smile on his face. This took place at The No Barriers Summit.

On June 13-16, I attended my fifth No Barriers Summit in Lake Tahoe. No Barriers hosts these summits yearly to provide people with disabilities the chance to participate in some great activities. This year, I participated in an improv course and falconry. I also did a boxing course with my brother, which was great. As always, I had a great time at this year’s summit!



On August 8, I was the keynote speaker at the first Mass Care Symposium hosted by the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia. At this event, I spoke to 200 people about the importance of making emergency preparedness plans inclusive for people with disabilities and for the elderly population. I talked about why people with disabilities should be involved in the planning process and in practice scenarios when it comes to emergency preparedness, and also discussed what items shelters can include to make people with disabilities feel more comfortable.


PHOTO: Matthew on stage, in a blue shirt, in his wheelchair. He front of an audience listening to his keynote. A TV to the right of him reads Disaster Dialog. There is also a picture of a fire on the screen. This keynote took place as part of The Virginia Mass Care Symposium.

PHOTO: Matthew on stage, in a blue shirt, in his wheelchair. He front of an audience listening to his keynote. A TV to the right of him reads Disaster Dialog. There is also a picture of a fire on the screen. This keynote took place as part of The Virginia Mass Care Symposium.

Throughout the summer, I’ve also submitted several presentations to several organizations for different events. I submitted a presentation to Virginia’s state-wide Emergency Preparedness Conference. I also submitted two proposals focusing on making workplaces more inclusive and disability-aware for a conference in Canada.

I’m looking forward to speaking on a diversity panel for a conference hosted by Visit Richmond on September 26. The conference is focused on diversity in travel and the media, and we’ll be talking to travel writers, journalists, and other people in the tourism industry. We’ll also have someone from the African American community and someone from the LGBT community to talk on the panel, and we’ll discuss the ways travel can be made more inclusive and enjoyable to our communities.

Even though it’s not lobbying season right now, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into lobbying during the off-season. I’ve continued my lobbying work for the Virginia Association of People Supporting Employment First (VA APSE) this summer and have met with 10 legislators about the upcoming legislative agenda. I’ll also meet with a few more legislators in the coming weeks.

Earlier this summer, I served as an expert witness in court. I drafted a report about a case in Michigan that involved a person with a disability. This was a my first time as an expert witness and it was a really cool learning experience that had me thinking about disability from a different perspective. It’s definitely I’d like to do more of if I have the opportunity!

As you may have noticed, we’ve made some changes to our website recently! We’re going to continue to make updates to the website, so keep an eye out for new content coming soon!

There will be new podcast episodes coming out soon, and I’m looking forward to everyone hearing the newest episodes! Bob and I have interviewed some really great guests on the podcast recently and we’ve had some really great conversations. We know you’re going to love hearing what our guests had to say!

Coming your way is an exciting project that I’m working on with 6 Wheels Consulting volunteers Emily Deaton and Carolanne Monteleone: an eBook! Details on the eBook will be in future social media posts and blog posts!

I have some really great projects that I’m currently working on, and I’m excited to share them with you soon! As always, thanks for reading and make sure to follow 6 Wheels Consulting on our social media platforms to keep up with the latest news!

PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair in a black shirt black hat and khaki shorts smiling. Standing next to him is his brother, Jason. He is smiling in a blue shirt and khaki pants They are having their picture taken in front of a blue backdrop that reads No Barriers.

PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair in a black shirt black hat and khaki shorts smiling. Standing next to him is his brother, Jason. He is smiling in a blue shirt and khaki pants They are having their picture taken in front of a blue backdrop that reads No Barriers.

Upcoming Events, Conferences, and More!

It’s been an exciting year for 6 Wheels Consulting so far, and there’s a lot more still to come!

Recently, I had the opportunity to join Gayton Elementary School in their Gators Choose to Include Campaign. This campaign is all about sharing the importance of inclusion and celebrating differences. I was able to kick off the campaign by talking to 500 kids in kindergarten through fifth grade about my experiences. The students were incredibly engaged and excited, and I was delighted to be a part of Gayton’s Gators Choose to Include Campaign.

PHOTO: Matthew Speaking to Gayton Elementary school students at the Gators Choose to Include Campaign kickoff event.

PHOTO: Matthew Speaking to Gayton Elementary school students at the Gators Choose to Include Campaign kickoff event.



I returned to George Washington University to speak with students who are studying to be physical therapists and occupational therapists. These students learn so much in their time at school and learning how to interact with future patients is an important part of their studies. Sharing my experiences with them and talking about how important self-determination can be to patients is a great way to add another dimension to their education.


PHOTO: Matthew speaking to OT and PT Students at George Washington University about the importance of developing self-determination within their patients.

PHOTO: Matthew speaking to OT and PT Students at George Washington University about the importance of developing self-determination within their patients.

I have several events that are also coming up soon. On May 7-10, I’ll be attending the 2019 Family Voices Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The organization focuses on the importance of families in children’s healthcare, and I’ll be representing Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) at the conference. A youth panel at the conference will allow everyone to hear about issues that affect young people with disabilities.

PHOTO : Logo for the Global Pathfinder Summit.

PHOTO : Logo for the Global Pathfinder Summit.

May 20-24, I’ll be participating in The Global Pathfinders Summit in Charlottesville, Virginia. This great event will bring together people around the world and will focus on leadership and networking. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning from some great leaders.



A few days later on May 30, I’ll be in Vermont to be a keynote speaker for a Youth Advocacy Council. This group consists of young adults who want to hone their leadership skills and connect with other people with and without disabilities. This empowering event will focus on the importance of positivity and enjoying being present in daily life.

From June 13-16, I’ll be attending the No Barriers Summit once again, which is being held in Lake Tahoe. There, I’ll get the chance to connect with and speak in front of others. I’ll also be participating in some great activities, including improv and falconry.

At the beginning of August, I’ll be a keynote speaker at Gayton Baptist Church where I’ll talk about emergency preparedness. I’ll be focusing on the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities when preparing to react to different types of emergencies.

PHOTO: 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast logo.

PHOTO: 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast logo.

Finally, I’ve recently recorded several new episodes for the 6 Wheels Consulting Disability Podcast. In upcoming episodes, you’ll hear interviews with Evelyn Clark, who talks about the process of becoming disabled, Ashton Fallen, who shares her experiences parenting a child with a disability, and Emily Deaton and Carolanne Monteleone, who talk about the intersection of chronic illness and disability. In the works is also an episode with lawyer Helen Hardiman from Hardiman Law where we’ll talk about fair housing, disability and more. Make sure to tune in to catch all these great episodes!


As always, thanks for your support! Please continue to stay connected to our social media pages for updates. I’m so excited for everything I have coming up and can’t wait to see what else spring and summer has in store.

Exciting Additions: New Changes to the 6 Wheels Consulting Website

Recently, we’ve made some awesome new additions to our website! You can now conveniently shop on 6 Wheels Consulting’s site. Grab a copy of the book Infinite Inspirations if you haven’t already! Additionally, we will be adding more merchandise options to the store in the coming months. There’s also a new page dedicated to the 6 Wheels Consulting Disability Podcast where you can listen to all 25 of the current of the episodes show whenever you’d like. Whether you want to hear about disability and travel, disability and relationships, more about the work we do with 6 Wheels, or so much more there is an episode for everyone. New episodes will be premiering in the coming weeks as well. Stay tuned!

Are you interested in 6 Wheels Consulting’s services? Send us an email, and we’ll provide you with the password to our exciting new promotional page, containing downloadable informational one-pagers, business cards, and more. That way you can take a look and see all we have to offer in one spot or even download everything and print it yourself.

The best addition to our website is that we’ve made it more accessible for those of you who use screen readers and other devices that assist you in viewing web pages. Hopefully, you can experience 6 Wheels Consulting’s website to its fullest potential.

There are many more exciting things on their way at 6 Wheels Consulting, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Please stay connected to our social media platforms for new and exciting updates! I hope you enjoy the new additions to our website!

PHOTO: Pink lettering that reads Exciting News with an Exclamation Point.

PHOTO: Pink lettering that reads Exciting News with an Exclamation Point.

Staying Busy: Conferences, Keynote Speaking, and More

PHOTO: Program from attending.The 2018 Collaborations Conference. The program depicts two silhouettes of people. One person with a disability in a wheelchair and one able-bodied person holding their arms up in victory.

PHOTO: Program from attending.The 2018 Collaborations Conference. The program depicts two silhouettes of people. One person with a disability in a wheelchair and one able-bodied person holding their arms up in victory.

        At the end of September, I attended the Collaboration Conference in Virginia Beach. There, I was able to network with organizations and individuals about lobbying work. I’ll start lobbying again in January, which is coming up quick! In addition to networking, I also heard updated policy outcomes and listened to a few different programs.

PHOTO: Listening to the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Collaboration Conference.

PHOTO: Listening to the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Collaboration Conference.

PHOTO: Matthew, sitting in his wheelchair, In khaki pants and a button-down shirt, In front of a projector screen getting ready to begin his Leadership on a roll program in his Ed session Atlanta.

PHOTO: Matthew, sitting in his wheelchair, In khaki pants and a button-down shirt, In front of a projector screen getting ready to begin his Leadership on a roll program in his Ed session Atlanta.




            I went from Virginia Beach to Atlanta, Georgia to speak at the NACA (National Association for Campus Activities) South Conference. It was my first time presenting a new program, Leadership on a Roll. I spoke in front of around 60 people and talked about different types of leadership. I’ve always loved to talk to others, and I always enjoy the chance to share my experiences with others.


PHOTO: Matthew smiling with four enthusiastic students from VCU's Student activities board. This was after his presentation at the NACA South conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

PHOTO: Matthew smiling with four enthusiastic students from VCU's Student activities board. This was after his presentation at the NACA South conference in Atlanta, Georgia.




            On October 5th and 6th, I attended my fourth No Barriers Summit in New York City. The No Barriers Summit is always a great chance to meet new people and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I took an improv course, learned about adaptive fencing techniques, and did a workout routine with two trainers. A concert on the last day, featuring artists including Mandy Harvey and Judah and the Lion, was a great way to end the summit. If you think you might be interested in attending next year’s summit, you can sign up for more information here.

            I came back home from New York City to give a talk as a keynote speaker at my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University. I talked to around 70 students and professors about how I navigated the university as a student. I also spoke on a panel and answered questions about what I looked for in a school as a person with a disability and how I chose to attend VCU. It was a really engaging conversation and it was great to hear about other people’s experiences.


PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

            On October 10th, I also was a keynote speaker to students at my former high school, JR Tucker. I graduated high school almost ten years ago, and I talked to the class of 2019 about enjoying the rest of their time in high school and how using the RAPP (Resilient, Approachable, Persistent, Positive) mentality could really benefit them as they moved forward in high school and into their future. There were about 2,000 people in attendance, and I really appreciated getting a standing ovation at my former school.


PHOTO: Matthew on stage at his high school, JR Tucker, in front of 2000 people. He was the keynote speaker for the class of 2019 Convocation.

PHOTO: Matthew on stage at his high school, JR Tucker, in front of 2000 people. He was the keynote speaker for the class of 2019 Convocation.

PHOTO: Matthew in front of the room presenting His disability etiquette program to 28 students In Buffalo, New York.

PHOTO: Matthew in front of the room presenting His disability etiquette program to 28 students In Buffalo, New York.

            The next day, I went to Buffalo, New York to attend an Ed Session. I presented two different programs to an audience, which included students with disabilities. The first program related to disability sensitivity training while the other program was my Be Your Own Wrecking Ball program, which highlights the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. Hearing from students with disabilities and getting to share my knowledge and experiences made the sessions really memorable.

PHOTO: Matthew, In the front of a small room, presenting his second Ed session In Buffalo, New York. This one was about getting out of your comfort zone.

PHOTO: Matthew, In the front of a small room, presenting his second Ed session In Buffalo, New York. This one was about getting out of your comfort zone.




PHOTO: Matthew presenting his disability etiquette program to STEM Students at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York.

PHOTO: Matthew presenting his disability etiquette program to STEM Students at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York.

            I spoke at two schools in October: one in New York and one local to me in Virginia. First, I talked to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) high school students at Scarsdale High School in New York. Since those students could be making products in the future for people with disabilities, it was a great experience to interact with them. While I was at Scarsdale, I also talked with an adaptive PE class. After speaking at Scarsdale, I went to Woolridge Elementary School in Virginia and met with the school’s fourth and fifth graders. I talked about the idea of inclusion with them, and the students were all really excited and curious. I loved getting to hear their questions and I hope the experience will help normalize the idea of disability for those students.


PHOTO: Matthew taking a group photo with several smiling fourth and fifth graders from Woolridge Elementary School after his Positively Inclusive presentation.

PHOTO: Matthew taking a group photo with several smiling fourth and fifth graders from Woolridge Elementary School after his Positively Inclusive presentation.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting In front of 250 fourth and fifth grade students Woolridge Elementary School during his Positively Inclusive presentation.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting In front of 250 fourth and fifth grade students Woolridge Elementary School during his Positively Inclusive presentation.



Finally, I spoke at the Regional Assistive Technology Symposium on October 23rd. I talked to physical therapists and occupational therapists and explained through my perspective how to help a person with a disability find the right tools. As someone who has used assistive technology throughout my life, it was a great opportunity to share how assistive technology has helped me and how it can help to create inclusive environments.

PHOTO: Matthew, on stage next to a screen, serving as the keynote speaker at the Regional Assistive Technology Symposium in Roanoke, Virginia. The keynote was about how Matthew has utilized assistive technology throughout his life.

PHOTO: Matthew, on stage next to a screen, serving as the keynote speaker at the Regional Assistive Technology Symposium in Roanoke, Virginia. The keynote was about how Matthew has utilized assistive technology throughout his life.



            It’s been a wild month, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep busy! As we approach the holidays, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to take it easy for a few days. Then, I’m looking forward to continuing my work and seeing what comes next! Make sure to stay connected with all of the 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC social media pages and website for updates on ongoing and future activities and episodes of the podcast. 

Highlighting 6 Wheels Consulting’s 2018 Successes in the First Half of the Year

2018 has been a great year for 6 Wheels Consulting. With everything that has happened lately, I thought it’d be a good idea to highlight some of the most important and exciting work 6 Wheels Consulting has done so far.

 

At the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to see the release of a book that my mom and I took part in writing. Infinite Inspirations: Creative and Daring Responses to Life’s Challenges shares stories from different people who have faced challenges in their lives with courage and positivity. If you’re looking for great stories from real people, you should definitely consider picking up the book.

PHOTO: Infinite-Inspirations-Book Cover

PHOTO: Infinite-Inspirations-Book Cover

 

Since launching the 6 Wheels Disability Podcast in June, over 507 people have downloaded the podcast! Bob Nolley and I have had a great time recording each episode and we look forward to continuing the pod. We often take questions from listeners, so make sure to connect with 6 Wheels on social media for the chance to hear your questions answered on the podcast!

PHOTO: Here is the logo for the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast. Is a white version of the six wheels logo on an orange background. The text reads 6 Wheels Podcast with Matthew Shapiro.jpg

PHOTO: Here is the logo for the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast. Is a white version of the six wheels logo on an orange background. The text reads 6 Wheels Podcast with Matthew Shapiro.jpg



 

6 Wheels Consulting has also recently launched our Certification Program. This program focuses on making locations fully inclusive, not just ADA compliant, for people with disabilities. If you know someone who is interested in having their business 6 Wheels Certified or you want to learn more, please contact me.

PHOTO: 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC Logo


Looking forward, 6 Wheels is also looking for volunteers who are interested in making the world more inclusive for people with disabilities. Whether you have a love for marketing or a knack for gaining followers on social media, we would love to have your help! Again, please contact me with any questions or if you’re interested.

 

Finally, 6 Wheels Consulting is going to start a mailing list to keep in touch with our audience. If you would be interested in joining our mailing list to receive updates on everything 6 Wheels, send me a message with your email address.

 

Thank you for your support. 6 Wheels Consulting is making a difference every day, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring.

A Busy June

This past month, I’ve had a lot of exciting opportunities to travel, work with others, and I’ve also launched several projects in June.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting in his wheelchair in a blue shirt and cap outside a store in Paris, France.  He is looking at a gray platform.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting in his wheelchair in a blue shirt and cap outside a store in Paris, France.  He is looking at a gray platform.

At the beginning of the month, I traveled to Europe and South Africa. It was amazing to explore the different countries. One thing that I was surprised by throughout the trip was the way these countries handled accessibility and inclusivity. There were always family restrooms and changing rooms available, even in historical buildings. Paris had ramps that were built into the stairways, so business owners could pull the ramp in and out as needed. In Amsterdam, one of the canal boats had a platform that easily raised up and lowered, making it easy for me to get into the boat with my wheelchair. It was clear that many places prioritized the inclusion of people with disabilities and it proves that it can be done in the United States.

PHOTO: Matthew still sitting in his wheelchair in a blue shirt and cap outside a store in Paris, France.  Now he is looking at a black ramp to help him get in the store.

PHOTO: Matthew still sitting in his wheelchair in a blue shirt and cap outside a store in Paris, France.  Now he is looking at a black ramp to help him get in the store.

PHOTO: Matthew in his chair, in a yellow shirt, using a lift to get into a canal boat in Amsterdam.

PHOTO: Matthew in his chair, in a yellow shirt, using a lift to get into a canal boat in Amsterdam.

PHOTO: Matthew, sitting behind a table, and his mom, Eve, presenting on the stage at the I'm Determined Parent Summit In Harrisonburg, Virginia at James Madison University.

PHOTO: Matthew, sitting behind a table, and his mom, Eve, presenting on the stage at the I'm Determined Parent Summit In Harrisonburg, Virginia at James Madison University.

After my trip, I headed to Harrisonburg, Virginia to give a talk with my mom at the I’m Determined Parents’ Summit. Our presentation focused on qualities of highly productive people; a few qualities we talked about included making time for yourself and focusing on the good things in life. It was great to talk with so many parents and listen to other people’s experiences.

I had a few days at home before heading off to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the National ADA Symposium. I’m working toward becoming an ADA Coordinator, so it was a perfect opportunity to take classes that move me closer to my goal. When I become certified as an ADA Coordinator, I plan to use my knowledge and experience to help different types of businesses by using my inclusion above compliance approach.

PHOTO: Here is the logo for the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast. Is a white version of the six wheels logo on an orange background. The text reads 6 Wheels Podcast with Matthew Shapiro.

PHOTO: Here is the logo for the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast. Is a white version of the six wheels logo on an orange background. The text reads 6 Wheels Podcast with Matthew Shapiro.

A few days later, I went to Orlando, Florida and attended the National Association for People Supporting Employment First Conference. I listened to several interesting presentations and learned more on how to do lobbying work better.

            Finally, at the end of June, I launched the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast: Discussing Difference, Inclusion, and All Abilities in Today’s World with Bob Nolley. We had been talking about the idea of starting a podcast for a little while and getting to record the first episode was great. Make sure to let us know your thoughts on our first episode and what you’d like to hear! We appreciate your feedback!

PHOTO: Infinite-Inspirations-Book Cover.

PHOTO: Infinite-Inspirations-Book Cover.

If you haven’t already, also check out the book that I took part in writing, Infinite Inspirations: Creative and  Daring Responses to Life’s Challenges. Each chapter is written by a different author, and the book is filled with a lot of genuine stories.

It’s been a busy month, and it’s been great to see several programs that I’ve been working on come together. I’m excited to continue working on these projects and I look forward to seeing what comes next!  As always stay tuned in to the 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC social media pages and website for exciting updates on future activities and episodes of the podcast.  I am working very hard and I’m excited to share those experiences with you.

PHOTO: One last picture.  Here is Matthew In South Africa In his wheelchair feeding some elephants some lunch.

PHOTO: One last picture.  Here is Matthew In South Africa In his wheelchair feeding some elephants some lunch.

Major Announcement: Launching The 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast: Discussing Difference, Inclusion, and All Abilities in Today’s World

I have more EXCITING news to share!  I have launched a new podcast, called the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast: Discussing Difference, Inclusion, and All Abilities in Today’s World.  My cohost, Bob Nolley, and I recorded the introductory episode a few weeks back and it is now live on iTunes.  I look forward to working on more episodes soon.

Every 45-60-minute episode will focus on different issues people with disability face, and we aim to release a new episode around once a month and occasionally more frequently. We’ll be covering a wide range of topics, talking about everything from representation in the media to maintaining relationships. After our Introductory episode, we hope to feature guests in future episodes to talk about their personal experiences and their areas of expertise in the disability world.

Ultimately, the goal of the podcast is to get people thinking differently about disability. The more discussions we have with and about people with disabilities, the closer we are to a more inclusive world.

You can find the podcast and the inaugural episode on iTunes HERE.  Give it a listen and let us know what you think!  Make sure you like it and put it in your podcast library so you will be aware of future episodes. Also, follow the 6 Wheels social media pages to receive updates, or to provide us with future episode topic ideas or to let us know you would like to be a guest on a future episode!  We want to hear from you!

PHOTO: Here is the logo for the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast.  Is a white version of the six wheels logo on an orange background.  The text reads 6 Wheels Podcast with Matthew Shapiro.jpg

PHOTO: Here is the logo for the 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast.  Is a white version of the six wheels logo on an orange background.  The text reads 6 Wheels Podcast with Matthew Shapiro.jpg

Major Announcement: Introducing the 6 Wheels Certification Program

PHOTO: 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC Logo

PHOTO: 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC Logo

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a new program to help organizations and businesses create a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities. Simply complying with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) often doesn’t mean an environment is inclusive—a barrier-free environment that allows everyone, regardless of ability, to have access to everything. After thinking about how to go beyond consulting, I decided to create a new tool, to go along with the services we already provide, to help solve some of these challenges.  I am thrilled and excited to announce the 6 Wheels Certification Program!

The 6 Wheels Certification Program will ultimately acknowledge that an organization or facility has worked to place inclusion above compliance for people with disabilities. The areas that will be assessed include physical space, staff training and policies, and inclusivity within marketing and online presence (including social media pages, marketing, etc). After an assessment, we’ll work with the organization’s leaders to make changes in the above areas. Once the changes have been implemented, a location will have the opportunity to be certified.

People with disabilities are often forgotten in the marketplace, despite the fact that the disability community and their families have an estimated 220 billion dollars in discretionary spending. 6 Wheels Certification will ensure that people with disabilities aren’t overlooked. When people with disabilities see that a location has been 6 Wheels Certified, they can feel confident in knowing that the business or organization has a long-term, lasting commitment of inclusion to people within the disability community.

I’m proud of the 6 Wheels Certification program and I know it will make a difference for people with disabilities. I look forward to working with people in our community to create spaces that aren’t just compliant but inclusive.

If you would like your business to become 6 Wheels Certified please contact Matthew Shapiro today at matthew.shapiro@6wheelsconsulting.com or 804-317-0818 and ask him about this amazing new program being offered by 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.

PHOTO: Red words read Get Certified!

PHOTO: Red words read Get Certified!

Educating and Advocating for a Change

It’s been a busy month! I spent a lot of time in April talking to people and promoting a dialogue about how to best work with people with disabilities.

            At the beginning of the month, I went to D.C. and did disability sensitivity training for an organization called New Editions Consulting Inc. The company makes it a priority to hire people with disabilities. With the whole staff in attendance, we talked about ways everyone within the organization can better serve people with disabilities.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting In front of a screen presenting his disability etiquette training at New Editions Consulting Inc.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting In front of a screen presenting his disability etiquette training at New Editions Consulting Inc.

 

            A former physical therapist and I spoke with occupational and physical therapy students at George Washington University on April 24th. These students will be affecting so many people in the future, so it’s important for them to give people with disabilities the ability to empower themselves. One important tool that physical therapists can use for themselves and their patients is something called the Good Day Plan. It’s a goal-setting plan that highlights a person’s strengths and weaknesses, hobbies, etc., and it outlines what someone needs to do in order to have a good day (one of those things for me would be waking up early to eat a good breakfast). Once everything is outlined, it’s easier to figure out how to achieve a goal.

PHOTO: The George Washington University Logo

PHOTO: The George Washington University Logo

 

            I also attended the 2018 Virginia Venture Summit. The Summit is for entrepreneurs and lets new businesses connect with the community. There were panel discussions about how to grow your business and Dennis Bickmeir, the President of Richmond Raceway, was the keynote speaker. I was excited to meet a lot of new people and to make new connections!

PHOTO: Matthew sitting at at his resource table at 2018 Virginia Venture Summit.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting at at his resource table at 2018 Virginia Venture Summit.

 

            I finished the month at a golf tournament talking about Sportable, which is an adaptive sports program, that I’ve been a part of for a long time. Sportable was the beneficiary of the tournament, and it was great to work with an organization that I’ve loved for years.

            It was a great month and I look forward to continuing my work in May. I’ll have some exciting announcements coming up soon, so make sure to stay tuned!

Lobbying for a Change

I started this year with a new adventure: lobbying. Though I had experience working in the Virginia General Assembly before, this was my first time going solo. I began lobbying work for Virginia ASPE (the Association of People Supporting Employment First) at the Virginia General Assembly.

PHOTO: Matthew's Lobbying badge during his first year lobbying for The Virginia Association of People Supporting Employment Lobbying (VAAPSE)

PHOTO: Matthew's Lobbying badge during his first year lobbying for The Virginia Association of People Supporting Employment Lobbying (VAAPSE)

 

The ASPE’s mission focuses on career advancement for people with disabilities. I worked with ASPE to fight for people with disabilities’ rights, focusing particularly on the right to have equal opportunities in the workforce. It’s incredibly important for people with disabilities to be paid fairly (disabled workers are often paid below the minimum wage) and have equal access to opportunities. People with disabilities have so much to contribute to the world, and we deserve the chance to succeed and excel in our careers.

There were a lot of changes this year: we were working with a new governor, working in a new building, and there were over a dozen new legislators. A large part of our conversations focused around Medicaid, which left less time to focus on the three budget amendments. This means we’re going to continue focusing on our budget amendments next year.

Overall, it was a great experience. I made a lot of new contacts and established relationships with legislators, legislative assistants, and administrators. In the coming months, I’m going to continue to learn some more tactics and tools to help serve ASPE, and we’ll continue the fight for equality for people with disabilities.

PHOTO: Matthew smiling In a black suit with a green blue and white striped tie.

PHOTO: Matthew smiling In a black suit with a green blue and white striped tie.

The Metropolitan Business League's Social Vision Award

PHOTO: Metropolitan Business League Logo

PHOTO: Metropolitan Business League Logo

On March 2nd, Governor Ralph Northam awarded me with the Metropolitan Business League’s Social Vision Award at the Metropolitan Business League’s annual awards reception.

The Metropolitan Business League (MBL) is a Richmond nonprofit which creates connections for women-and minority-owned businesses, and helps these businesses thrive. I’ve had great experiences working with MBL in the past, and the work they do is incredibly important. The organization has introduced me to other small business owners and has also helped me grow 6 Wheels Consulting LLC.

The award reception at John Marshall Ballrooms honored other businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals. It was a night to celebrate all the hard work business owners had done to make Richmond a better place. 12 awards were presented to recipients, and it was amazing to see what other businesses and business owners have been working on in the past year.

Social Vision Award is given every year to a business that is working to promote change in society.  It has always been my goal to create environments that are inclusive for people with disabilities, not just compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a person with a disability, I’ve seen what a difference a truly inclusive environment makes for me and for others. I love the work I do, and I was honored to be this year’s recipient of the Social Vision Award. This recognition tells me that I’m making a difference, and I’m excited to keep making the world a more inclusive place.

PHOTO: Matthew with his parents Eve and Barry at the Metropolitan Business League’s annual awards reception.

PHOTO: Matthew with his parents Eve and Barry at the Metropolitan Business League’s annual awards reception.

PHOTO: Matthew holding the Metropolitan Business League’s Social Vision Award that he won. 

PHOTO: Matthew holding the Metropolitan Business League’s Social Vision Award that he won. 

Becoming an Author, Showcases, and More

2018 has been a busy year already, and I wanted to update everyone on some highlights so far.

 

I took part in writing the book Infinite Inspirations: Creative and Daring Responses to Life’s Challenges, which was released at the beginning of March. The book is a compilation of stories from 13 different authors. Each author had a chapter to share how they adapted to challenges life threw their way. Overall, it’s both honest, positive read, and I encourage everyone to check it out!  You would like to purchase a copy of Infinite Inspirations you can do so HERE.

PHOTO: Infinite-Inspirations-Book Cover

PHOTO: Infinite-Inspirations-Book Cover

 

I also presented my first showcases for the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA). The first showcase was in Orlando, Florida, and the second was in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and I focused on discussing how colleges can make their students feel valued by focusing on inclusivity. Both showcases were exciting experiences, and I look forward to doing more in the future.

PHPTO: Matthew presenting on stage at his showcase at APCA Nationals.

PHPTO: Matthew presenting on stage at his showcase at APCA Nationals.

 

As well as advocating on a more local level, I began my lobbying work at the Virginia General Assembly. It was a gratifying experience, and we were able to have some really great discussions. Look forward to more posts to come about that in the future.

 

There are a few projects I’m working on that I look forward to announcing soon, so stay tuned by keeping up with me on social media to find out what I’m doing next.

Looking Back on 2017

 

             Hello again everybody.   It has been quite a long time since I updated on the work that I am doing via this blog.  I want to make a promise to you that I will work harder to make sure that I am regularly updating the blog and sharing about all of my tremendous activities.

             As the beginning of the first quarter of 2018 draws near a close I thought I would take some time to reflect on 2017.   2017 was A most productive and eventful year for 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC. I had lots of adventures and connected with a lot of amazing people. In this post, I will highlight some of my more favorite activities from 2017 beginning with the last time I posted and around particular topics by sharing links and different photos from throughout the year.

 

 First, I will start with media coverage.  Please enjoy these pictures and links from all of the amazing coverage I received throughout 2017.

 

Banking product allows people with disabilities to save money in Virginia Richmond Times-Dispatch Article March 20, 2017

 

http://www.richmond.com/news/local/banking-product-allows-people-with-disabilities-to-save-money-in/article_a8f3c49c-7e44-592f-8878-92ebb7d4038e.html

 

People with disabilities finally get a way to save money USA Today February 4, 2017

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/02/04/people-disabilities-finally-get-way-save-money/97381332/

How ABLEnow Has Already Helped Me (Guest Post by Matthew Shapiro) March 20, 2017

https://www.able-now.com/resources/news/how-ablenow-has-already-helped-me-guest-post-by-matthew-shapiro

 

State savings plan opens for people with disabilities NBC 12 March 29, 2017

http://www.nbc12.com/story/35024000/savings-plan-opens-for-people-with-disabilities

 

http://www.nbc12.com/clip/13210181/state-savings-plan-opens-for-people-with-disabilities

 

https://youtu.be/MKTfe_KqIyU

 

Matthew Shapiro Capable Campaign Story

 

http://www.thenextmoveprogram.com/capable/

 

 

Consultant helps accommodate workers with disabilities-  Virginia Business Magazine May 31, 2017

http://www.virginiabusiness.com/regions/article/consultant-helps-firms-accommodate-workers-with-disabilities

 

ABLE accounts fill the savings gap for the disabled- Kids and Money column June 26, 2017

https://tribunecontentagency.com/article/able-accounts-fill-the-savings-gap-for-the-disabled/

 

National Health Care Debate Leaves Disabled Richmonders and their Caretakers on Edge- Style Weekly July 26, 2017

 

https://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/national-healthcare-debate-leaves-disabled-richmonders-and-their-caretakers-on-edge/Content?oid=4028393

 

 

Additionally, throughout 2017 I was very fortunate to be able to share my story through several public speaking presentations to a variety of audiences.  The highlight of these presentations was when I gave my first large talk on a college campus at the University of Findley in Ohio.   Please take a look at these pictures from that presentation as well as pictures from other presentations from throughout the year.   Be sure to read the caption to get a better feel for where the presentation was and what it was about.

PHOTO: University of Findley Presentation Photo

PHOTO: University of Findley Presentation Photo

 

  The last area where I had fantastic success in 2017 was with some of my consulting projects.   I was able to assist many great organizations to think of ways to be more inclusive to the disability population.

 

 The biggest projects that I undertook this year is one that will be wrapped up in 2018.   I was contracted to work with an architect firm in Richmond to conduct a disability accessibility assessment of City Hall in Richmond Virginia.   I have completed the preliminary review of most of the floors of City Hall and am readying to begin the next phase of the project.   I am very grateful to the City of Richmond for giving me the opportunity to help make City Hall a welcoming environment for our city residents who live with disabilities.

 

 A second outstanding project that I had the opportunity to work on in 2017 was through a partnership with the Metropolitan Business League.   Together we developed the ABILities Entrepreneurship Series.  This series is designed to support the training needs of individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.  This 8-week program is for individuals and their support system who have the desire to be business owners and start their own businesses.  The MBL recognizes challenges of all entrepreneurs and has adapted our entrepreneurship training program to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities.

At the end of the series, a culminating event takes place and each person will introduce their business and receive a certificate of completion.

 

 If you are a person with a disability and would like to register for the next ABILities series please follow the link here to learn more about this great class.

 

http://thembl.memberzone.com/events/details/abilities-entrepreneurship-series-81

 

As you have seen, 2017 was an absolutely incredible year for me and 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.   I cannot thank you enough for your continued support and enthusiasm as I continue to grow this consulting firm.   I’m grateful for the relationships that I made throughout 2017 and know that I will continue to cultivate those relationships for many years to come.   We have a ton of amazing things planned for 2018 and I can’t wait to see what the new year holds for me.   I plan on writing another post announcing some of these new initiatives here in the coming few days.   Please be on the lookout for that second post.  My New Year’s resolution to my readers and my followers is to be more active on all forms of social media and do a better job keeping you in the loop about our activities.   As always please keep an eye on our social media and our website for new updates.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2018 has in store for me.

 

PHOTO: Thank You 2017

PHOTO: Thank You 2017

 

 

   

6 Wheels Consulting, LLC Story on VCU Insight

I was very thrilled and excited to be featured on a story recently on the VCU Insight News program. VCU Insight is a news program produced by and featuring VCU Mass Communications students. The story can be found at the YouTube video below. I want to think Ryan Carstons for doing such an amazing story on my business. 

 My story can be found 24 minutes and 47 seconds into the YouTube video.   I really appreciate all of this amazing coverage about 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.   Please stay connected to our social media pages for more updates.   A wide of exciting opportunities will be announced soon.

A Lot Has Happened

Happy 2017 everyone. I’ve been so busy that I have been unable to update everyone on all the amazing things that happened at the end of 2016 and in the beginning of 2017.   This blog post will have some highlights with little snippets from all the activities that I’ve been doing lately.  I have been busy.

 ABLE Ambassador:

 I have entered into a partnership with Virginia 529 and ABLEnow to serve as the ABLE Ambassador.   My role is to help ABLEnow promote the new ABLE savings accounts for individuals with disabilities.   Check out this interview that aired on Channel 6 Good Morning Virginia to learn more about this great new program.   I am thrilled to be working with this amazing team. WATCH THE INTERVIEW HERE

 

Also as part of this project I was quoted in a recent Associated Press article.  READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Community Conversation on Acceptance at The Valentine:

I was thrilled on January 3 to be able to participate as a panelist for a Community Conversation on Acceptance.   I spoke about how we need to look at people with disabilities differently.   The event was very well attended and a great conversation took place with everyone.   The other panelists discussed the homeless population and the LGBTQ population.   It is always important to learn about and accept differences.   Thank you for allowing me to be a part of a fantastic evening.

 

PHOTO: Matthew Speaking at the Community Conversation on Acceptance at The Valentine on a diversity panel.

PHOTO: Matthew Speaking at the Community Conversation on Acceptance at The Valentine on a diversity panel.

Media Coverage for 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC:

 Over the first few days in January I was fortunate to have two stories from different media outlets run talking about the work that I do.   The first was in Richmond magazine to promote the event at The Valentine. READ THE ARTICLE HERE

The second story that came out in January was when I was lucky enough to be featured in a Making a Difference cover story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.   This series of stories highlighted people in the Richmond community who are making a difference.  I was honored to be recognized as one of those people.  READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Attended a Public Speaking Mastermind Weekend with David Coleman:

Also in the beginning of January I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to take part in a public speaking mastermind weekend with David Coleman and other aspiring public speakers.   For those of you that don’t know I have been working with David to have him help me develop public speaking programs that I will be able to perform in the college market.   I was thrilled to be able to meet other amazing people and get remarkable feedback about my program.   I also stayed a little bit longer and got some one-on-one attention from David which helped make my program that much stronger.   I am excited to continue to work on this program and to bring my messages to colleges and universities across the United States.

PHOTO: Matthew at Mastermind Weekend with David Coleman and Lenny Dave

PHOTO: Matthew at Mastermind Weekend with David Coleman and Lenny Dave

 Speaking at Collegiate:

On February 6th, I was asked to speak at Collegiate, a private school in Richmond, Virginia. The ninth graders were having an event where they were learning about different minority groups. They were going to take this information and volunteer in the community with one of these groups.   I was asked to speak about the disability population. I believe the students got something out of my presentation and I hope their volunteer placement was a successful and joyful experience for them.

Vendor at Friendship Circle of Virginia’s Community Inclusion Event:

 I was delighted to be asked to serve as a vendor at Friendship Circle of Virginia’s Community Inclusion Event.   Each year this organization works to hold an event to bring the community together and talk about disability and inclusion.   This year’s event was a great success.   There was tons of great discussion and I met many great people when they stopped by my table.   I hope to be involved in this event again in the future.

PHOTO: Matthew at his vendor table at Friendship Circle of Virginia's Community Inclusion Event

PHOTO: Matthew at his vendor table at Friendship Circle of Virginia's Community Inclusion Event

Vendor at at REAP Walk and Roll for Kindness Event:

We were thrilled to serve as a vendor at the Richmond Entrepreneurs Assistance Program Walk and Roll for Kindness Event.  This event was done to help raise money to help REAP’s mission of getting people with disabilities jobs.   I was fortunate enough to be able to address the audience about how we needed to stop bullying individuals with disabilities and instead be more accepting of them.   I also had many great conversations with people who came up to my table.

 

VCU Alumni Article:

Before the new year began I was a featured alumnus in a VCU alumni spotlight article.   The article highlighted my journey through VCU as well as the work I am now doing with 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.   This was an exciting recognition for me and I am ecstatic to be honored by such a great university.   READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Appointed to the VaAPSE Board:

I have been appointed to the Virginia chapter of the Association of People Supporting Employment First as the newest board member.   I am ready to get to work to help make sure that people with disabilities are getting valuable employment opportunities that are meaningful and that pay good money. I might also be helping with some lobbying work for this organization in the future.  I am ready to get to work.

 As you can see I have been very busy since the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.   I am grateful for all the opportunities that I had and will continue to have.   I can’t wait to share with you all the other additional fantastic activities and work that I am currently in the process of finalizing.   Stay tuned, some very exciting things are coming.   As always, please stay connected to our social media pages to get the latest breaking news on our activities. I always appreciate your support and I am looking forward to a bright future and 2017 as a whole.

Announcing Partnership between Shepherd Care and 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC

6 Wheels Consulting, LLC is excited to announce a brand-new partnership with Shepherd Care Read the press release about the new alliance below to learn what both organizations hope to accomplish with this new agreement.  Also, to learn more about Shepherd Care, visit their website HERE. 

 

 

SHEPHERD CARE PARTNERS WITH 6 WHEELS CONSULTING TO PROVIDE SENSITIVITY, DISABILITY, AND RESPECT SEMINARS 

 

Shepherd Care, a non-profit organization established by Eric Kieselbach in 2009 to care, encourage, inspire, edify, counsel and support people in the community, has established a partnership with 6 Wheels Consulting, a company that strives to educate and strengthen the public’s understanding of the culture of disability.

 

Founded by Matthew Shapiro, 6 Wheels Consulting’s mission is to educate people about disability culture as well as raise awareness about the issues that affect the people with disabilities population. Shapiro has been actively involved in numerous disability and youth related boards, organizations, and programs – tirelessly sharing his knowledge and experience through a variety of public speaking engagements across the country. He has also worked with the Virginia Advocates United Leading Together (VAULT), the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, the Virginia Department of Education, just to name a few. 

 

“6 Wheels Consulting, LLC is delighted to announce this exciting new collaboration with Shepherd Care.  Eric's mission to care for people where they live and work is the heart of community.  This new partnership will allow 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC and Shepherd Care to provide training and other services to businesses, churches, Fire, Law, and EMS Departments to expand their disability awareness and improve interactions, and foster respect and understanding of the diverse perspectives of others. We are excited to see what the future holds for both organizations, thanks to this partnership," Shapiro said.

 

Be sure to be up to date in this latest partnership with 6 Wheels Consulting! For more information visit HERE

 

Keep up to date with Shepherd Care! Follow Eric on:

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShepherdCareCommunity/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTzdWOCiLTO5JTCZP1nK-8A

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-kieselbach-13804623

 

Keep up to date with 6 Wheels Consulting! Follow Matt on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/6WheelsConsultingLLC

Twitter: https://twitter.com/6WConsulting

Instagram: https://instagram.com/6wheelsconsultingllc/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4WSA3Q0lDny_d4cYnKzxYw/feed

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/1/117935567925954912348/about?hl=en

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/6-wheels-consulting-llc

 

PHOTO: Logos of 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC and Shepherd Care

PHOTO: Logos of 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC and Shepherd Care

Announcing Partnership with The Richmond Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (REAP)

6 Wheels Consulting, LLC is excited to announce a brand-new partnership with The Richmond Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (REAP).  Read the press release about the new alliance below to learn what both organizations hope to accomplish with this new agreement.  Also, to learn more about REAP, visit their website at www.reapva.org.

 

REAP PARTNERS WITH 6 WHEELS CONSULTING TO BOLSTER AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

 

The Richmond Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (REAP), a non-profit organization dedicated to provide comprehensive job training and skills development for people with disabilities (PwD), reinforces its awareness campaign by partnering with 6 Wheels Consulting, a company that strives to educate and strengthen the public’s understanding of the culture of disability.

 

Founded by Matthew Shapiro, 6 Wheels Consulting’s mission is to educate people about disability culture as well as raise awareness about the issues that affect the PwD population. Shapiro has been actively involved in numerous disability and youth related boards, organizations, and programs – tirelessly sharing his knowledge and experience through a variety of public speaking engagements across the country. He has also worked with the Virginia Advocates United Leading Together (VAULT), the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, the Virginia Department of Education, to name a few. 

 

“6 Wheels Consulting, LLC Is delighted to announce this exciting new collaboration with REAP.  REAP's work to help people with disabilities become entrepreneurs and develop job skills is something that is greatly appreciated by everyone in the disability community.  This new partnership will allow 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC and REAP to provide training and other services to businesses to expand their disability awareness.  We are excited to see what the future holds for both organizations, thanks to this partnership," Shapiro said.

 

Be sure to be up to date in this latest partnership with 6 Wheels Consulting! For more information, visit www.reapva.org.

 

Are you on social media?

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/REAPRVA/

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/reaprva

Subscribe to our blog: https://reapva.wordpress.com/

 

Keep up to date with 6 Wheels Consulting! Follow Matt on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/6WheelsConsultingLLC

Twitter: https://twitter.com/6WConsulting

Instagram: https://instagram.com/6wheelsconsultingllc/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4WSA3Q0lDny_d4cYnKzxYw/feed

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/1/117935567925954912348/about?hl=en

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/6-wheels-consulting-llc

 

READ MORE HERE

PHOTO: REAP Logo on top of the 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC Logo in a photo.

PHOTO: REAP Logo on top of the 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC Logo in a photo.

Recent Activities

I have continued to remain busy with activities since the last time I posted a blog.  I want to get you caught up on those activities.

 

First, I will take you back to July where I was asked by Goodwill of Central Virginia to conduct an assessment on a building that they are renovating in Hampton.  I evaluated blueprints and offered suggestions of how they could make their new facility more common sense inclusive to individuals with disabilities who may either use their services or work there.  All of the staff was receptive to my ideas, and it was a great project to take part in. 

 

 

For me, the most unique part of this project was to evaluate the facility based on just blueprints and not an actual structure.  This required me to understand blueprints and what the drawings meant.  When the structure is done being renovated, I hope to go in and do a physical assessment of the space to see if they are implementing some of my suggestions.  I believe this is the beginning of a great relationship with Goodwill of Central Virginia.

 

PHOTO: Goodwill Blue Smile Logo

PHOTO: Goodwill Blue Smile Logo

 

 

Second, I was honored to appear on Debra Ruh's podcast "Human Potential at Work." in early September.  Debra's website describes the podcast by saying. "How do we bring out the potential in all people, including those with disabilities? Get ready to be inspired, hear success stories and learn tips and principles for bringing out the best in the people in your organization."  On my episode, we discussed my journey to trying to find employment, failing, and ultimately starting my own consulting business.  I encourage you to listen to the episode at the link below.  It was a great joy to appear on Debra's show, and I hope you enjoy our conversation. You can listen to it here.

It is also below. 

 

PHOTO: Human Potential at Work promo poster featuring Matthew Shapiro.

PHOTO: Human Potential at Work promo poster featuring Matthew Shapiro.

 

As always please stay connected to us via our social media pages and stay tuned for more great updates from 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.

Selected as One of Style Weekly’s 40 Under 40

I am honored and humbled to announce that I have been recognized as the youngest recipient in this year's class of Style Weekly's 40 Under 40.  Style Weekly is a weekly newspaper that is described by its website as "Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion."  Each year Style Weekly selects 40 people under the age of 40 who "rally for change, serve others and bring the Richmond community together."

 

To celebrate my selection to this amazing group, I would love to share my profile that is appearing in the issue.  Please read the profile below and enjoy:

 

Don’t call Matthew Shapiro an inspiration.

 

“While what people with disabilities do is incredible,” he says, “we’re not here to make people feel good about themselves.”

 

Shapiro, who lives with cerebral palsy, doesn’t want your pedestal — he wants your business. And his talents for getting people to see things differently are evident.

 

“People with disabilities are the biggest minority group that no one talks about, and they have $220 billion in discretionary spending [nationwide],” he says. “My goal is to work with people who have no connection to disability whatsoever, help them understand that this is a huge population of people that society rarely taps into.”

 

For years, he volunteered and advocated for people with disabilities at J.R. Tucker High School and Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduation, he channeled his expertise about all manner of disabilities into his own business: 6 Wheels Consulting. The name references his wheelchair, including its two hidden wheels.

 

Shapiro consults with businesses, nonprofits and local government on accessibility and sensitivity toward those in wheelchairs, with hearing and vision impairments and such developmental disabilities as autism.

 

“In most cases all they’re thinking about is [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliance,” he says. “That’s great, but I come in and say here’s how we can do more to be more inclusive.”

 

Such clients as the Henrico County library system and Central Virginia Goodwill have come to him for assessments. “Moving furniture around to open up space, angling the tables in study rooms, training with staff members, thinking about safety and emergency preparedness situations,” Shapiro says of his recommendations.

 

Those changes end up helping groups like the elderly and families with strollers, as well. “So it ends up ultimately becoming a universal design approach,” he says.

 

He’s also a self-described political nerd and serves on numerous state-level boards for disability awareness and education. And he’s fielding requests for public speaking engagements across the country, which means a lot of travel.

 

“Hotel rooms are routinely bad culprits of just doing the bare minimum of what’s required with ADA,” he says. He describes common problems he’s had with beds and bathrooms in supposedly accessible rooms.

 

“But people don’t think this way unless they’re affected by it,” Shapiro says. “The biggest challenge I have is getting people to understand they need my services.”

 

PHOTO: Picture of Matthew in his wheelchair on his ramp and in his 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC shirt.

PHOTO: Picture of Matthew in his wheelchair on his ramp and in his 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC shirt.

 

I want to thank Style Weekly for giving me this honor along with everyone who helped make this accomplishment possible.  Thank you for always supporting me in whatever I set out to do.  If you would like to read more about the other 40 Under 40 recipients, check out this link HERE.   

I also encourage you to check out Style Weekly for their other great stories.  You can find them HERE at this link.

PHOTO: Style Weekly Logo

PHOTO: Style Weekly Logo

As always be on the lookout for more updates from 6 Wheels Consulting, by staying connected to our social media pages.  Thank you for reading and your incredible support.