By: Anthony Joseph
Born with spina bifida, a condition that has paralyzed him below the knees, Algonquin student Kyle Humphrey has always had to go about things differently.
But that doesn’t mean he wants to be treated differently.
Humphrey says that he has faced many difficulties in life but never a disability, and he wants to get that point across through an initiative that aims to break down the social barriers between people with physical difficulties and those they interact with.
Humphrey, a veteran of close to 100 operations, came up with the idea during a two-year period when he was bed-ridden.
”I figured that I’d take something negative in my life where I’m stuck in bed and try to make it a positive,” said Humphrey.
One way he is hoping students participate in the initiative is through the inclusion of differently-abled people.
”Don’t include them as the person in the wheelchair, include them as your buddy,” said Humphrey.
”I walk using my chair, someone who’s blind reads with their fingers, and someone who’s deaf speaks with their hands.”
He’s also not a believer in the word disability, saying that it drives people to think that someone can’t do something, whereas they just do it differently.
”There’s ways to get things done, no matter what physical difficulty you have,” said Humphrey.
”It’s all a matter of perspective and I’m hoping to change society’s perspective on things like that.”
Humphrey first knew he wanted to make a big change in the community when he attended CTV’s Ottawa Most Amazing People gala as one of the nominees. There he met people that inspired him to create change in the community as they had.
One of those people continues to inspire him to this day is former CTV Ottawa anchor and friend Max Keeping.
”I’ve known Kyle since he was eight or nine, meeting him and his family through CHEO,” said Keeping. ”He’s an extraordinary young man who has inspired all who have met him.”
”I remember 10 years ago when I was facing my first cancer surgery, he gave me the ‘lucky rocks’ he had held in his hand for his 89 surgeries, to ensure I survived the knife. I did, and I held his rocks again last year when I underwent cancer surgery for the second time.”
Keeping also believes that Humphrey is a great voice for the initiative: ”No Such Thing As Can’t! How can you dispute that? Especially when it comes from someone whose personal survival has been based on that,” said Keeping.
”Many of us would have given up, surrendered – not Kyle, who maintains a cheery disposition even as he endures such obstacles as being bed-bound for almost two years.”
Through this initiative Humphrey hopes to speak to adults, parents and children and tell them that it’s okay to ask questions and educate yourself on the conditions that force certain people to do things differently.
”I want them to see my red hair, I want them to see the guy who just crowd-surfed the Billy Talent concert,” said Humphrey.
”I don’t want them to see the guy who crowd-surfed the Billy Talent concert in a wheelchair.”
”I think that’s the way everybody should be seen; you’re seen by your hair colour and what you can do for society,” said Humphrey.
”There’s so many different ways to do things, people just need to open their eyes.”
For more information on the initiative you can visit