I met Tanya at an incredible public speaking conference for women. When I heard her story I was deeply moved and inspired, and knew that I wanted to amplify her voice, her mission, and her wisdom.
Tanya is a mom of three children. Her oldest child was born with Cerebral Palsy. Like many parents who have children with challenges, she experienced anger, denial, frustration, and much joy in raising their daughter.
When her daughter started school, she realized how limited the options were to support her child’s full potential. She was eager to find another way, and began to research and build a new school (and really a new paradigm) for education.
But when her daughter died unexpectedly, their world came crashing down. Plans to create this new school were put on hold while Tanya struggled to manage her grief and her other two kids.
However, in time Tanya got back into action, and is now the founder of UP Academy, an elementary school that is focused on children with physical disabilities and creating a new approach to how we include and interact with all abilities, and for all kids everywhere.
Her story is badass… full of courage, compassion, resilience, and hope.
We talk about:
- Creating an inclusive educational model that serves all kids
- Raising a child with cerebral palsy and special needs
- From denial to advocacy: a mom’s journey to start a movement
- The “handicapped parking” moment that changed it all
- Dealing with death and grief
More information about Tanya and UP Academy:
Tanya Sheckley, MBA, is a Social Entrepreneur, Speaker, and the Founder of UP Academy.
To find out more and support the work of UP academy (or buy at t-shirt!!) check it out here:
- https://www.customink.com/fundraising/upacademysf (T-SHIRTS)
“I believe that all children deserve access to an education that pushes them to live up to their potential. UP Academy was born of my quest to find the best education for my three children. My oldest, intuitive, curious and differently-abled with cerebral palsy, my middle, ambitious, fearless and creative and my youngest, observant, sweet, and athletic and all three of them brilliant (but every parent says that right?)
UP Academy is an inclusive elementary school that is the first in the world to offer a fully integrated neuro-development program for differently-abled students. This provides consistency and relevance to learning, as all students participate fully in our individualized and project based learning curriculum within our modern, one-room schoolhouse.
My mission is to spread awareness and joy for all people and change our societal reality around perceptions of people who are different from ourselves. My message is one of rising out of grief to make the world a kinder, more accepting place that sees the value all people can contribute when they participate fully in the world.
My experience has taught me that kids just see kids, our fears and judgement around differences is something that is learned. My goal is a world where even as adults, people just see people.”
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