6 Wheels Consulting

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Tons of Amazing Things Are Happening. Let’s Talk about the College Transition

I hope everyone had a remarkable Fourth of July holiday.   It’s been a few months since I updated you all on the happenings with 6 Wheels.  With this thought in mind I figured I would post several new blogs over the coming days that will fill you in on what we’ve been up to since my last post.   Keep an eye out for these new updates because so many amazing things are happening.

In this first post I want to take you back to May 21st when I had the privilege to present on college transitioning at the second annual transition summit put on by Jack Trammell.   I was able to speak to several families and students about the main differences that college brings compared to high school for students with disabilities.   We were able to have some great discussions to help prepare the students on what to expect in college. Some of the areas I covered included: How classes are different, how you spend your free time differently, the amount of study and prep time required per class for you to be successful in college, and about accommodations in college along with other topics.

 I love being able to give back and share my knowledge with other families.   It is the whole reason I started 6 Wheels Consulting in the first place.   It is my hope that the families took something away from our presentations during this event.   I was super excited to be a part of it.

 Stay connected to our social media pages and our website as we will be sharing more posts shortly.   I can’t wait to share all of the incredible news with you.   Stay tuned.

PHOTO: Matthew Presenting at a Richmond Transition Conference

PHOTO: Matthew Presenting at a Richmond Transition Conference

Major Announcement

Everyone at 6 Wheels Consulting is excited to share a major announcement with you.   We are thrilled to announce that I have signed a talent contract with one of the best national talent agencies in the country.   We are elated to be joining the Metropolis Management and Coleman Speaks Talent Agencies.   This agreement will allow me to travel the country as a public speaker in the college market.   I will get the chance to share my messages with college students during orientations and other related events. I may also be able to provide the school with a common sense disability assessment of their campus.  This opportunity is tremendous for us as an organization and for me personally.   One of my goals when I started this organization was to develop and become a nationally known public speaker.   The agreement with Metropolis Management and Coleman Speaks will allow that vision to become a reality. 

 

Another part of my agreement is that I now have an agency that will help with bookings and other activities. This is a huge relief for me as this has been one of the greatest challenges that I’ve been dealing with so far in the short life of the company. I will be a member of the Coleman Speaks roster.   For the last several months I have been working closely with their speaking coach, David Coleman.   David is a multi award-winning talent who is helping me take my speaking game to the next level.   I am currently working on developing my show to bring to colleges across the country.  I am beyond excited about this opportunity to get to travel the country to educate students about people with disabilities and their capabilities.   If you would like to learn more about Metropolis Management, CLICK HERE.  If you would like to learn more about Coleman Speaks, CLICK HERE.

 I am humbled by the opportunity to join the talent rosters that include such remarkable talents being represented by both of these organizations.   I truly have come a remarkably long way.   As soon as I finalize my show and start regularly booking events I will be sure to update you all on my travels.   I want to thank everyone at Metropolis Management and Coleman Speaks for their belief in me as an artist.   I am so thankful for this opportunity.   If you or your college is interested in booking me, or learning about pricing please reach out to Metropolis Management.   Thanks again to everyone for their support.  

Please keep tabs on our social media pages for more amazing updates.   More announcements will be coming soon.   Stay tuned.

PHOTO: Metropolis Management Logo

PHOTO: Metropolis Management Logo

PHOTO: Coleman Speaks Logo

PHOTO: Coleman Speaks Logo

Selected: 2016/2017 Leadership Metro Richmond Quest Program and GOT Transition Advisory Board

The good news just keeps rolling in for us.  Do you see what I did there? J I have been selected for two more major opportunities.   First, I will be a member of the 2016-2017 Leadership Metro Richmond class.   Additionally, I have been appointed to the GOT Transition Advisory Board.

According to their website the Quest program is “LMR's flagship program in its 36th year, connects diverse leaders, increases their knowledge and perspectives on regional issues, and inspires servant leadership, inclusion and collaboration. Quest will take your leadership to the next level. The program runs September through June.”  Being a member of the Quest program will open my eyes to all of the possibilities that Richmond has to offer.   We will be going on a variety of trips throughout the 10-month program that will show us all of the corners of the region.   I am also looking forward to the opportunity to network and connect, with not only my classmates, but also all of the speakers and community leaders we will meet along the way.   I am extremely excited for the opportunities and doors that the Quest program will open for 6 Wheels Consulting. I can’t wait for the program to begin in September.

 Being a member of the GOT Transition Advisory Board will allow me to break into the healthcare space with 6 Wheels Consulting. On this board I will be serving in two capacities the first being as a member of Kids as Self Advocates or KASA and the second as 6 Wheels Consulting.   This appointment will be a paid position and will allow me to interact with young people with and without disabilities regarding their transition from youth healthcare to adult healthcare.  To give you some more information I thought I would include the press release below announcing the formation of the group.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                Media Contact
          Dan Beck (202.223.1500, dbeck@thenationalalliance.org)
 

      GOT TRANSITION FORMS NATIONAL YOUNG ADULT TRANSITION ADVISORY GROUP

 

Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2016) –   Got Transition/Center for Health Care Transition Improvement is pleased to announce the formation of a new National Young Adult Transition Advisory Group. Twelve young adults with and without disabilities between the ages of 18-25 have been chosen to advise Got Transition on young adult perspectives on the important transition from pediatric to adult health care services. Members of the Advisory Group are diverse in their ages, geographic locations, and ethnic backgrounds. They represent a unique group of national and state organizations, including Able South Carolina’s Center for Independent Living, Bacchus/Furman University, California Department of Social Services, Foster Club, Kids as Self Advocates, Special Olympics International, The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy, Young Invincibles, and Youth Move National.

 

As part of the National Young Adult Transition Advisory Group, these twelve members will ensure that young adult perspectives are included in Got Transition’s plans moving forward. They will provide a critical voice in reviewing tools designed to educate and inform young adults on the importance of health care transition. The Advisory Group members will guide Got Transition’s social media and other communication platforms to relay important health care transition-related messages and resources to youth and young adults nationwide, and will help strengthen Got Transition’s partnerships with their organizational affiliates.

 

Got Transition is dedicated to expanding the availability of high quality health care transition services in pediatric and adult health care practices and health plans. It is committed to involving young adults in designing transition strategies and producing materials and messages. Through quarterly conference calls, virtual trainings, and leadership development, Got Transition’s new National Young Adult Transition Advisory Group will play a critical role in ensuring that the voices of young adult consumers are heard in the development of health care transition resources and processes. Through the Advisory Group’s contributions, Got Transition will be able to better support the positive health outcomes of young adults as they transition to adulthood.

 

 

###

 

 

Got Transition/Center for Health Care Transition Improvement is a cooperative agreement between the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health. Our aim is to improve transition from pediatric to adult health care through the use of new and innovative strategies for health professionals and youth and families. For more information, go to www.GotTransition.org and follow Got Transition on Facebook and Twitter. 

 

 

These two amazing opportunities will allow me to continue to get the word out about 6 Wheels Consulting.   I look forward to getting started and making the biggest impact with both new opportunities.  If you would like to learn more about both of my new activities, please visit their websites at HERE and HERE respectively.

             Thank you and we look forward to sharing with you more about these opportunities as they get underway. all over our social media pages.  Stay tuned.

PHOTO: Leadership Metro Richmond Logo

PHOTO: Leadership Metro Richmond Logo

PHOTO: GOT Transition Logo

PHOTO: GOT Transition Logo

I was Featured on the Local News

We recently got to experience a few seconds of fame.  In another fantastic opportunity to gain exposure for 6 Wheels Consulting, we were contacted by a local NBC 12 news reporter Allison Norlian to appear in one of her reports. Allison wanted to do a story on the state of the sidewalks in downtown Richmond, Virginia and how they affect wheelchair users. 

So I put on my best TV ready outfit and met her at VCU. For those of you that are unaware,  the sidewalks in downtown Richmond, Virginia are quite hazardous to anyone, but even more so to people with disabilities.   Some sidewalks may have cobblestones or concrete missing or cobblestones or concrete that is being pushed up from tree branches.   I have, on many occasions, almost fallen out of my chair due to unexpected dips in the sidewalks.  

Allison did a remarkable job capturing some of the problem areas in downtown Richmond.   Often times it becomes a situation of whose responsibility it is to fix the sidewalks, either the city of Richmond or VCU.  I say let’s stop pointing the finger and get something done to make downtown safer for everyone.  

To be fair there have been several improvements made in regards to curb cuts and main sidewalks being renovated.  However, most secondary sidewalks are still being greatly ignored.   Anyone should have the right to freely move about the city in which they live without the fear of possible injury. We must do better. 

 I want to thank Allison for her willingness to shed light on this important issue and I hope we get to work together again in the future.   For those of you who may not have seen the story I am including it in this post below.   Hopefully my words in this piece can help bring some change to the city.   I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed being a part of it.   Remember, to stay connected for more updates that will be coming shortly.

Working with the I’m Determined Parent Summit

For several summers I have had the privilege of participating in I’m Determined Youth Summit at JMU.   This has become one of the highlights of my year.  This year, however, I got to experience a new unique twist on the summit by working with the parents. For me, working with parents is always a tremendous thrill. Why? Because I can be an example for both the parents and their children.   Specifically, parents with children who have special needs often wonder if their child can live independently, attend college or achieve a dream they may have.   For some parents the fear of the unknown diminishes their ability to see their child’s full potential.   While working with parents I try to help them realize that dreams can be accomplished through accommodations and supports. This year I was able to reach parents in ways that I have not been able to do before at previous summits.   How did I do this?

 

             First, I was able to serve as a vendor at the resource fair. This was an opportunity for me to explain, not only to the parents, but also to my fellow vendors what we do at 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.   This was also a great way for me to initially meet the students and their parents and start to make some connections with them.

 

             Next, I was tabbed as an expert (I know I felt really special) on self-determination, youth transition, and entrepreneurship.   The experts were asked to sit at tables and address questions from parents relating to their topics. I was able to have parents come join me and ask questions about to how they could help their son or daughter.   I love these one-on-one interactions because I can really help parents understand that they don’t have to have that fear that I previously mentioned. These are the interactions that truly make me enjoy my work.   If I can help one parent feel more comfortable and not worry so much, I have done my job.

 

             In addition, my mom and I had the privilege of serving on a youth/parent panel where we discussed and gave tips about how to refuel in your advocacy journey.   One of the things that I find most important about refueling, and this could be for both parents and students, is that you must allow time for yourself to do things that you enjoy. For me that could be something as simple as getting caught up on the latest TV shows or hanging out with friends. These types of activities help you maintain a level of centeredness. 

 

 I think for parents with young people with special needs one of the other most important things they can do, even though it can be tremendously difficult, is to learn to give your son or daughter freedom to make their own decisions and to trust of those decisions.   I am so grateful for my parents’ willingness to let me be free and experience different things. For example, they allow my friends to drive our van so that I can spend time with my friends outside of the house.   These choices have allowed me to grow and become independent both physically and in my decision-making. I hope my mom and I conveyed that message during our time on the panel.

 

             I learned a lot from the different perspective of working with parents at this year’s summit.   Mainly, the parents know how to get down when there is alcohol and dancing involved.   Seriously though, I was grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences with the parents and I hope they took as much out of it from me as I did from them.

 

            I want to thank Dana Yarbrough from the VCU Center for Family Involvement for allowing me to be a part of the parent’s summit and I hope I get the chance to return again in the future.

 

             As always stay connected to us on social media and be on the lookout for new and exciting updates from 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting behind his 6 Wheels Consulting table At the resource fair at the I'm Determined Summit at JMU.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting behind his 6 Wheels Consulting table At the resource fair at the I'm Determined Summit at JMU.

Back to the No Barriers Summit

Recently, I got to experience one of the highlights of my year as I returned to the No Barriers Summit.   This year’s summit took place in Copper Mountain, Colorado from July 23 through the 25.   As our time to leave was approaching I couldn’t help but reflect on the life-changing experience that occurred for me at this event last year.  It truly reshaped how I feel about getting out of my comfort zone and I was pushing to build off of that experience this go around.   I did just that.

             Joining me once again on this amazing journey was my mom and my three friends Kari, Keri, and Timmy.   Tagging along with us this year was my dad.   I was so excited to have him there to experience all of the incredible things that the summit provides the participants.   He got to see me do some remarkable activities.

             On the first day of the summit I participated in a session around neuro movement.   Neuro Movement is the practice of retraining your brain on how your body works through small social movements.   The sessions made me feel so good and taught me about dealing with pain.   I enjoyed this session so much that I went back several times during my downtime throughout the week and had more one-on-one sessions done.   I definitely plan on trying to continue this treatment.  

While at the summit I also had the chance to try archery again.   This is an activity that I’ve picked up recently here at home but I wanted to continue to try and develop my skills with this activity.   We were out there for quite a long time as we shot for three hours.   I can’t shoot an arrow the typical way, so I have to use my mouth to help drawback and fire it.   I started off the day pretty awesome by hitting several of my first few targets.   As the day progressed I started dealing with fatigue and was not as accurate with my shots.   Even though I was getting slightly frustrated I kept trying to improve.   I would hit some targets here and there, but overall I just enjoyed the experience.  

As the session was coming to a close they allowed each of us fire a crossbow.   The power behind this bow was absolutely incredible.   It felt so exhilarating to fire that weapon.   One of the nice features of the bow was that it had a laser site that made it easy for aiming.  I was able to pop a balloon that was placed on the target with my second shot.  I felt like Rambo.   During this whole event my dad was grinning ear to ear seeing what I was accomplishing with a bow and arrow.   It was great to have him see me doing that.

 Later that day Timmy and I ventured over to the aquatic center to participate in a scuba seminar.   I have never been scuba diving before. This was probably the most fun thing I did at the summit this year.  Every year when I go to No Barriers I always try to do at least one thing that will completely take me out of my comfort zone.   This year, that event was scuba.  

 Staff helped me transfer from my wheelchair into the pool, which was heated by the way, to get started.   They actually put the equipment on you in the water to make it a little bit easier.   The biggest challenge I quickly learned about was learning how to breathe with the regulator.   Your instinct is to panic under water, but you are supposed to take huge deep breaths and trust that the regulator will breathe for you.  It felt surreal to be able to explore under the water with such freedom.   Timmy would flash me a thumbs up underwater and I can tell that he, too, was enjoying the experience.   I’m glad he and I were able to share this adventure together.   I would love to continue trying to learn how to become better at scuba. I felt so empowered taking part in that activity.

On the last day of the summit I took part in a wheelchair self-defense class.   I wanted to do this to learn a few ways to defend myself if I ever got into a sticky situation.   A lot of what we learned revolved around hand-to-hand combat techniques that could be used in case you felt threatened by someone.  Your first tactic is to try and de-escalate the situation by telling the individual that you don’t need any help or want trouble.   If that doesn’t work, then you try to gain the upper hand by getting them in a position where they are less likely to hurt you.   My class had two people in wheelchairs as well as someone who has a visual impairment.   It was great seeing how you can use momentum in your environment to protect yourself.   I hope to continue doing some self-defense training in the future.

 One of the best parts of the summit, to me, is the people.   This could range from the speakers to the other participants to the family members that come along for the ride.    I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Kyle Maynard, who is somebody who lives with no limbs.   He is a remarkable person who has climbed some of the tallest mountains and taken part in an MMA style flight.   We have stayed connected after the summer and I know that he is someone that I will lean on for advice regarding my consulting work or life’s struggles. 

 I’m also reminded of some of the other participant’s like Cole who has joints that don’t bend, like a normal elbow or knee.   In spite of this, he was able to go on a group hike, and with the assistance of an off-road wheelchair, climbed to the top of a mountain in Colorado.   The support that Cole, I and all of the other participants of the summit receive while there is truly what makes this program so special. You are a part of an environment that is so supportive and encourages everyone get out of their comfort zone.   With the thought of always trying to do something a little bit bigger out of my comfort zone every year and seeing a video of Cole’s adventure on the mountain, I have challenged myself next year to climb up a mountain using an off-road wheelchair.  

I am truly trying to live the No Barriers motto of “what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way” I would strongly encourage anyone who lives with the disability or who wants to get more out of their life, to consider attending the No Barriers Summit.   I promise you, it will change your life as much as it has mine.   If you would like to learn more information about No Barriers visit their website HERE

 Remember please stay connected to all of our social media pages to learn about the latest and greatest updates on what we’re doing with 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.   So many amazing things are happening.  Stay Tuned. 

PHOTO: Matthew Going scuba diving.

PHOTO: Matthew Going scuba diving.

PHOTO: Matthew shooting archery with his mouth.

PHOTO: Matthew shooting archery with his mouth.

Talking Professional Development at the 2016 Virginia Youth Leadership Forum

On July 27 I was able to go back to my roots as a disability advocate, but this time with a little bit of a different perspective.   I journeyed to Virginia State University to present to the 2016 class of the Virginia Youth Leadership Forum (YLF).   It was nostalgic as I entered the room to do my presentation.   I was thinking back to when I was a delegate at YLF back in 2007 and reflecting how far I’ve come as an individual and as a business owner.  I was so excited to give back, even a little bit, to this year’s crop of delegates.

 

             For this presentation I had the privilege of presenting alongside my good friend Alexis Nichols.   I met Alexis in 2013 when she participated in YLF as a delegate.   She has gone on to do some tremendous advocacy work around service animals and other areas in Virginia.   We were asked to do a presentation on all aspects of professional development for the delegates.  We spent many weeks leading up to the presentation refining and cementing our message so we could have maximum impact so the students could be better prepared to handle professional situations in the future.

 

             The topics we addressed in our presentation included subjects from what is supposed to go on a resume, how to find job applications and fill them out, to how to dress in an interview and strategies for all different forms of communication including, email, written, proper phone and voicemail etiquette, and how to communicate effectively on social media.  

 

We also touched on the importance of personal branding.   We told the students that it is vital to make sure that you have both business cards and an appropriate sounding email address, because you never know when you might come across someone to network with.   We also shared the importance of always dressing as if somebody’s watching because you never know if a first impression could lead to a positive or negative outcome for you.

 

 There was phenomenal discussion from both staff and delegates which made the presentation that much more rewarding.   I always love for my work to feel like collaboration rather than a solo act.   The presentation was very well received.   I was so grateful to have the students hopefully take away something that will help them in their professional careers.

 

 It is such a special feeling for me to be able to be part of this experience.   My YLF experience shaped my life and gave me a purpose.   For me to be able to hopefully give that feeling back to someone else has truly made everything come full circle.

 

 In addition to connecting with the delegates it was also great to reconnect with some of the staff members that I hadn’t seen for quite some time.  I follow what most of them are doing and they continue to do remarkable things. I view each of them as a partner in this fight towards complete disability inclusion.   Continue to strive to do amazing things and I will follow along on your journey with pride.   It was so great to reconnect with you.

 I had a phenomenal time providing this presentation and I hope that it is something that I will get to do again for future classes of the Virginia Youth Leadership Forum.   Thank you for the privilege of being a part of this remarkable experience.

 

 To the class of 2016 I challenge you to take what you learned over those four days and implement the skills back into your schools or your communities.   Continue to advocate and push for better outcomes for yourselves and others.   I cannot imagine what the future now holds for you, but I certainly look forward to all the amazing things ahead for you.   I will be watching.   Congratulations and good luck!

 

             If you’d like to learn more about the Youth Leadership Forum please visit the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities website HERE.  It is a life-changing program.

 

 Thank you for reading and please stay connected to us on our 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC   social media pages for more exciting updates.

PHOTO: Matthew Presenting On professional development at this years Virginia Youth Leadership Forum

PHOTO: Matthew Presenting On professional development at this years Virginia Youth Leadership Forum