10629787_10152772065259686_5180326900001420349_nHey guys, a couple of people were asking me about the talks I do, ,so I thought I'd post one.

A Disability Is Not an Inability

Hi all, my name is Andre Campbell. I am a 25 year old writer, comic artist and speaker with Cerebral Palsy, and before I start, I would like to thank Extend-A-Family for inviting me to share my thoughts about disability, dignity and inclusion. Alright, first off, a person with a different level of ability might have many interests and aspirations, as well as other intriguing tidbits, but oftentimes, a lot of people hone in on one part of the individual; the “disability,” and thus lose sight of their other characteristics. Then terms and phrases like crippled, handicapped, disabled, a person with special needs, and differently abled, etc. are used to describe the variety of medical conditions commonly known as disabilities, but what exactly are disabilities?

If we look at the etymology of the word itself, and specifically its Latin roots we get the following. Dis is a Latin prefix that means “apart,” and ability coming from the Latin word habilitatem or habilitas meaning “aptitude.” So, disability literally means “apart from aptitude,” “apart from talent or skill.” Think about that. Right from the start, people saw those of us with varying levels of ability as inferior, and not able to be contributing members of society.  Over the years, this notion has seeped into society’s subconscious mind, and has become a nigh unconscious filter for how it views us.  Now, one could argue that times have changed - I’m not disputing this at all. Things (namely services, attitudes and accessibility,) have improved even within my lifetime. However, if we help shift society’s focus from disability and inability to ability, concepts like inclusion and dignity will be actualities, because they will become second nature to implement. Also, by promoting this newer belief that a disability isn’t an inability, the inferiority associated with the old belief will start to fall away.

To me, inclusion is simply recognizing and valuing another person’s worth, regardless of their race, gender identity, sexuality, religion or level of ability.  I feel that how Mr. Stewart treated me, epitomizes this idea perfectly. In fact, my former teacher went over and beyond the call of duty, and assisted me with a number of extra-curricular activities, many of which were related to charity. All of this made me feel like I belonged, and that for once, my disability didn’t matter.

I used to subscribe to the idea that having a physical impairment would stop me from achieving my goals, as well as having a happy and successful life.  However, Mr. Stewart, helped me to shift my focus from my “disability” to my ability, simply by making me feel included and valued. I feel that others can make this shift if we promote, and subscribe to the ideas that inclusion doesn’t have to be a big production, and that different levels of abilities are not inabilities. These differences don’t make us inferior or lesser people - each one of us here tonight has talents and skills, and are, or can be contributing members of our communities, as well as society as a whole, regardless.

Thank you!

The meeting with my supervisor yesterday, went as well as I had expected it to go...Frustrating as HELL!

The gist of our conversation is as follows; she doesn't understand how having someone I know accompany me to work, or me moving out would help my situation. It wouldn't make it any safer because I'd spasm no matter who I'm with.

"This isn't a staffing issue, Andre," she said, "...We are sending staff with you..."

I acknowledged her points, then I added that I wouldn't have worry about trying to direct someone, and be understood mid spasm if the attendant already knew me and what to do. My supervisor replied to this by suggesting that I take the bus, (MobilityPlus,) if I'm worried about spasming, so I reminded her that I already do.

I went on to say that what happened on Friday, isn't the sole incident behind my desire to move out, it was the last straw - my tipping point. However, a lot more was said yesterday, but I'm getting really anxious again writing just this much, so, long story, short, my supervisor is going to put me back on the waitlist for outreach, (in-house care,) as well as the waitlist for Kiwanis, which is in my hometown. This means that I'll be here for awhile yet, unfortunately, and even though I like living on my own, and having my own place, all this ILC crap is extremely taxing.

God, I hate confrontations, but I am going to fight this, and maybe even get a lawyer.

In a previous post, I mentioned "a few" of the issues that I've been having with ILC,  and that I let a heck of a lot slide. I also mentioned how it's a struggle to get an attendant to accompany me to work and book events. Well, listen to this.

I was invited to a day camp to speak to 6-11 year olds about real life superheroes, and the talk itself went really well. However, I wasn't allowed to take any of the Mooregate staff, (the PSWs I see everyday,) so, I went out with someone who didn't know or understand me well so I was practically on my own, and spasmed and almost drove off the curb twice! Next month, I work at Extend-A-Family, and ILC is trying to make get there and back  totally on my own, and only have an attendant for the first and last 15 minutes just to set me up, and then get me ready to go back to my apartment. 

This is the last straw! I'm not going to jeopardize my safety for anything, hell no! I'm done, and I have a meeting with my supervisor to tell her as much!

Kids' Soccer Camp

Computer: …and I am Ryan, Andre’s trusty and hardworking sidekick… “his computer”…and this other fine “human” “…person” “being…” is Andre’s assistant. 

How are you all doing today?

“Cool, well, Andre is 24 years old, he has a disability called Cerebral Palsy, and he talks differently which is why he takes me out places.

”I like to think that we’re sorta like Batman and Robin, which brings me to why we’re here,  Andre and I made a comic book about a normal guy named Cal, who has a disability, and eventually discovers that he also has superpowers. 

We are here today to talk with you about real life superheroes.

”Can anyone give us an example of a real life hero and/or heroine, and what makes them one?”Anyone can be a hero or heroine, and Andre and I both agree on this, because it’s not who you are, or having a “special” ability that makes you a hero, it’s what you do…Just imagine I had hands, and was able to put air quotes around the word “special,” alright? “

…No, wait, scratch that...” “Don’t imagine me with hands, that’s just silly! Who has ever heard of a computer with hands?!”

…Anyway, back to what I was saying, Bruce Wayne didn’t become Batman because he had rich parents, he became Batman to…

”Does anyone know why Bruce turned himself into the well-known hero?”

Due to the way his parents were killed, Wayne dedicated his life to fighting crime, so no one else would have to lose their mum and dad in the way that he lost his. He wasn’t born with superpowers, or special abilities, but that didn’t stop him from putting away bad guys, and it hasn’t yet.

Superheroes of the Justice League
Justice League Superheroes

“Similarly, Peter Quill, (or “Star-Lord” as he likes to be called,) from the Guardians of the Galaxy is “only” human, and doesn’t have special powers. Air quotes around “only.” However, he doesn’t give up, and when life throws him a curve ball, he just rolls with it, and continues on.”

“So, if you were to ask Andre and I for our definition of a hero, we’d say that there are several different types of heroes, and many of them go unnoticed, and don’t wear flashy costumes. They are everyday people like Andre and all you, who stands up for the underdog, and doesn’t give up even through the toughest times.

”Before Andre and I go, we would like to leave you with a quote from one of the best Batman movies ever made.“A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders to let him know that the world hadn't ended.” – Batman, The Dark Knight Rises. 

We would also like to offer you the time to ask Andre questions, and if you don’t understand him please don’t be afraid to ask him to repeat himself.“By everyone! I shall leave you in Andre’s capable hands, “‘cause just between you and I, he feels  a little left out when I do all the talking.”

Me: Thanks Ryan!

Computer: …No problem, buddy. Just trying to keep it real!

A week ago today, I spoke at Open Space (in Cambridge this time,) and it was quite possibly slightly more awesome than the one in Kitchener. I got to see a few friends who I haven't seen in years, which was really cool! I also got to meet lots of neat individuals. They shared their stories with me, and this, I think, is one of my favourite parts of doing my speeches.

The speech itself went well, I thought. I was a little spazy, which became rather annoying, but hey, that's what I do! My spasms didn't seem to interfere too much though, or at least, people didn't seem to be bothered by them. I took this as a good sign, and I thought that the fact that only one person asked me to repeat myself, was good too. However, my mum said that it wasn't easy to understand me that night, which was honestly a little disheartening.

I asked my mum why only one person stopped me when they couldn't understand me, like I mentioned. "They were afraid to, Andre," she replied. Then I wondered what I should do, so she suggested that I start utilizing synthesized speech via my computer when I share my story at events.

I always shied away from using a synthetic voice because I thought it would mean a failure to communicate on my part. Also, I feared that it would make me seem too different, and scare people away. However, I would definitely use it if it will help me get my point across.

Thoughts? What do y'all think?

P.S. A few weeks ago, I submitted Starkeeper to Book Viral, but nothing came of it. Though, know what? I'm doing okay on my own. 🙂

This is my speech that I did for my second speaking engagement

My books are for sale (beside greats like Startrek and Spawn) at Carry-On Comics, which is a comic store in Waterloo, because of my perseverance and my belief that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.

The independence and responsibility of self-publishing has led me to have the drive and motivation to promote my books, how and where I want. Also, I am going to go to events such as Toronto Comic Con and be an exhibitor in Kitchener Comic Con that I absolutely cannot wait for!!!!

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, I've also been given the opportunity to write a prequel to my series, to be included in an anthology, by a local comic book publisher, called Runciman Press, which I'm extremely grateful for and excited about!So, the thing that I want to leave with you today is this; always, always, believe in yourself.

This is so important, because it doesn’t matter who you are, or how many no’s you get, if you believe in yourself, then you can do anything you want, and if you want to reach for the stars, then by all means, reach for the stars!

Thank you! Have a great night.


Hi all, so I had an awesome Wednesday evening! I felt a bit like Cinderfella, but not in a rags-to-riches way, rather someone with worth. Now, hold on, this is not going to be a depressing post  - no, far from it! I just meant that Wednesday's crowd saw passed my disability, which doesn't happen very often. For many of the people I meet, my Cerebral Palsy acts like a barrier that deters them from wanting to get to know me.

After my speech, people started asking me questions, and sharing their stories, and I was like, "YES! This is happening! I'm finally getting to show people that we can do anything, and say, yeah, life can suck sometimes, however, you're not alone. IT CAN get better." Needless to say, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience!

The following is a clip from this awesome experience! I wasn't able to record the whole thing, but I'm hoping to have someone try to get all of Monday's speech. Now, because the video ends mid sentence, I shall finish it after said video.

"Just keep putting yourself out there, and don't give up because you will find people who have similar interests as you, and who will accept you for you."

My first ever public speaking gig!

The following is a clip from my very first speaking engagement! I wasn't able to record the whole thing, but I'm hoping to have someone try to get all of Monday's speech. Now, because the video ends mid sentence, I shall finish it after said video.

"Just keep putting yourself out there, and don't give up because you will find people who have similar interests as you, and who will accept you for you."

Hey all, I’m Andre, if you haven’t guessed that already. Before I start, if at any time you don’t understand what I’m saying, please stop me, and I will either repeat myself or say it in another way, okay? Thanks!

So, Starkeeper is about a teenage guy named Cal, who has a disability. He goes to high school, and his schoolmates aren’t very nice to him. Cal faces many challenges, and he wants things to get better, and eventually they do. He is led to discover that he has special abilities as well as an important and grand destiny.

Before Starkeeper was published, a lot of people who I talked to, in the publishing world, said they liked my story, but not my art. Now, I draw a certain way because of my disability, and yes, I have a disability, it’s a little known fact. 

However, every person that I spoke to about publishing my book said the same thing, “sorry, your art is too different for us. It is not the traditional comic book art.” This hurt, to be perfectly honest,  and I felt like they wanted me to change something that I could not change.

Have you ever felt like that? I was so sad and mad, but I was bound and determined, I wasn’t going to give up. And now, here I am, with the second installment of my Starkeeper series, (this time self-published) on January second of this year.

My books are for sale (beside greats like Startrek and Spawn) at Carry-On Comics, which is a comic store in Waterloo, because of my perseverance and my belief that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.

The independence and responsibility of self-publishing has led me to have the drive and motivation to promote my books, how and where I want. Also, I am going to go to events such as Toronto Comic Con and be an exhibitor in Kitchener Comic Con that I absolutely cannot wait for!!!!

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, I've also been given the opportunity to write a prequel to my series, to be included in an anthology, by a local comic book publisher, called Runciman Press, which I'm extremely grateful for and excited about!So, the thing that I want to leave with you today is this; always, always, believe in yourself.

This is so important, because it doesn’t matter who you are, or how many no’s you get, if you believe in yourself, then you can do anything you want, and if you want to reach for the stars, then by all means, reach for the stars! 

Thank you! Have a great night.

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