When Robin Renshaw told Circles Magazine “We are not defined by our disabilities”, he was not just spewing rhetoric. Robin has taken a situation that would have some people feeling helpless and dependent on others, and turned it around and done phenomenal things. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth and confined to a wheel chair at the age of 14, Robin is not only making his life better but is helping others to make theirs better as well.
Robin is a Las Vegas native who graduated from Bonanza High School in 1983. He went on to attend UNLV where he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. His path to being an advocate started in 1985 when he began working with the National Association for Home Care (NAHC) in the independent living program. After college and 5 years of selling carpet in Parhump, Robin returned to Las Vegas and began working for Nevada PEP in their Transition Department (working with people ages 14 to 26) and has been with them for 12 years. Nevada PEP provides support for children with disabilities (and their families) as they go from living in the family home and going to school to living more independently and going to college or work. In February of 2011 he also began volunteering for “People First” where he hopes to promote equality, create a level playing field, and empower those with disabilities. By focusing on the language/verbiage associated with disabilities he hopes to help erase the stigma that can be associated with a disability. One example he gave Circles was “Handicapped is an old outdated word to describe a person with a disability. I am a person with a disability.” Robin recently served on a statewide committee to improve services for people with disabilities.
Being an advocate isn’t Robin’s only passion. While substitute teaching for four years he fell in love with being a teacher and is working on his teaching degree. He is only one semester away and when finished hopes to teach 4th grade.
When asked what he does when he is not working, volunteering, or going to school Robin replied, “I like to garden and spend time with my family and dogs.” Circles also asked him how do you stay positive and he told us, “My family is what keeps me positive. My family is very tight; they support me in anything I do.”