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Former foster child hopes to inspire others to change their lives for the better
Josh Shipp has been doling out advice to teens and adults in his “in your face and on your side” style for years. The Yukon High School graduate survived more adversity in his first 14 years of life than many people will ever experience. But he's been so successful at turning those negative life experiences into learning experiences, he's recently released his own book, “The Teen's Guide to World Domination,” and stars in a new reality show called “Jump Shipp” in which he helps other people realize their dreams.
“Jump Shipp” premieres Oct. 21 on Halogen TV.
Shipp, now 30, believes that through his life experiences — both negative and positive — he can help others change their lives for the better. He's been a motivational speaker since he was 17 and has been dubbed the “Dr. Phil for Teens” by Fox and the “Teen Dear Abby” by CNN. He also recently was named one of Inc. Magazine's “30 Under 30: America's Coolest Young Entrepreneurs.”
All his accolades sound bright and cheerful, but Shipp has seen some major adversity in his life, starting at birth.
His mother abandoned him at an Oklahoma City hospital. Consequently, Shipp ended up being shuffled around the foster care system for the next 14 years of his life. During those difficult years, Shipp was abused physically and sexually, he said.
“If you don't talk it out, you're going to act it out,” Shipp said. Shipp's way of acting out was to form figurative walls between himself and the world, to protect himself from getting hurt. He tried to sabotage his foster situations, did poorly in school, was desperately overweight and became severely depressed and suicidal.
But then along came Rodney and Christine Weidenmaier, of Yukon (they now live in Missouri). The couple were practically professional foster parents. They'd taken in dozens of kids in need over the years, and when Shipp was 14, he was invited into the Weidenmaiers' home, where he stayed until he graduated high school.
“They were truly one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Shipp said.
“The encouraging thing for other parents, whether your kids are your own or they're foster kids, is that my parents did miraculous work on me, but they're just your average, everyday parents. They don't have some kind of magic wand that the rest of us aren't capable of. They are just consistent and loving and gave me an environment of stability.”
Through his motivational speaking, his book and his TV show, Shipp said he hopes inspire people to change their lives by sharing much of what he learned through his cherished foster parents.
But often, the catalyst people need to start changing is a trigger — either a positive or a negative one.
For Shipp, his trigger was getting arrested when he was 18. He had written a hot check for car insurance and subsequently lost his driver's license. He was pulled over for speeding and arrested for driving without a valid license.