Growing Up Without Cerebral Palsy Awareness
I didn’t hear anyone promote cerebral palsy awareness growing up. First of all, no one talked about my disability; thus, I didn’t know what it was or why I had it. Similarly, no one represented me on t.v., etc. I didn’t meet another person with CP until college.
Now decades later (I’m almost 47), CP is the most common childhood disability, with over 17 million affected worldwide. Shockingly, the media still isn’t really talking about it. Furthermore, they reinforce the assumption that we’re “suffering.” Certainly we deserve better; seems like our stories float into the deep waters in the sea of disabilities.
Why I’m Passionate About Raising Awareness
Did you know that March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month in the United States? Or that March 25 designated as National CP Awareness Day (U.S.)? Have you heard that October 6 is World CP Day? Because of the lack of awareness, I decided to help move the needle.
I promote cerebral palsy awareness for my younger self; she didn’t have social media, or a wonderful community like What Cerebral Palsy Looks Like, a FB page I created to shatter stereotypes. Most importantly, I advocate for the 17 million who feel ignored. As a result, we deserve to be recognized, especially in March and October.
Here’s How You Can Help
Remember, there’s no right way to promote awareness. Do whatever you want. Everything counts, and as a result, it all helps! Here are examples of how you can help:
- Call or write to your local news stations. Ask them to make on-air announcements. Pitch a story.
- Tweet national morning shows. Also, ask them to Go Green for CP!
- Share your child’s journey like Briella + Me (click link to read story). In addition, post it on social media.
Briella + Me on the Today Show
- Use social media to promote representation like Fifi + Mo. Target hit the bullseye with this campaign!
Fifi + Mo in Target
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I’ll never forget walking into Target & seeing a sweet lil guy with his walker… Finley LOVED that there was someone with equipment like hers on the walls of our favorite store. There’s a few different posts going around the internet who don’t credit the original source for this precious photo + caption. I absolutely LOVE what Katie Lew had to say: “Representation matters. It matters to the individual, to see images reflective of oneself. To know that no matter what it is that you think makes you different, it’s a trait that others in the world also share. And it matters to the individual’s loved ones. To know that when you tell your child, your friend, your family member that they’re not alone, you’re also sending them out into a world that practices what you’re preaching. Today, my kiddo got to see that representation. And it may have been a coincidence, but it was also the only poster that he walked right up to. Today, I got to see him represented. And seeing it, a weight that I didn’t even realize I had been carrying was lifted. Kudos to Target, for an ad campaign that gave my baby (and his parents!) a chance to feel seen”
- Feature people with cerebral palsy on your podcast like Claiming Disability Inc.
Claiming Disability Inc on Instagram
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Claiming Disability, Inc was lucky enough to receive a cool story from @crippledlifter @coachsamchang 💪💪 Check out Sam’s take on exercise and disability. Link in bio. [Image Description: 1st image: A Image with a weight lifter in the background and a picture of coach Sam with a light blue text that says From Cerebral Palsy to Fitness Coach. A Claiming Disability,Inc feature story. 2nd Image: A quote that says “Regardless of who we are, the conversation is always the same: “I’ll start it next Monday.” and “I’ll have to do that, but next time.” What makes us uncomfortable, we have a visceral aversion to. It’s simple, it’s animalistic, it’s how we’ve survived as a species. However, as rational beings in the modern age, what will help us survive as individuals is doing what we hate.” with a picture of Sam at the bottom and a weight lifting picture. 3rd Image: Sam’s top 5 tips in green boxes] #exerciseforall #disabledandcute #disabledandhot #disabledasfuck #disabledandproud #disabilityisdiversity #apparel #disabilitiesarebeautiful #disabledandcute #disabledandhot #disabledasfuck #claimingdisability #badgeofhonor #inclusion #diversitymatters #wesupportyou #weightloss #weightlifting #disabledbodies
- Write about cerebral palsy. Get published on Medium, The Mighty, Yahoo!, etc. like me.
Community Involvement Creates Change
Since the media remains speechless, it’s up to us to raise awareness together. Therefore, if we all do our part, society will see us. Our voices won’t be denied. In conclusion, advocacy is important all year round (not just in March and October).
Advocacy catches fire with a community effort. Consequently, we need to do it together. Finally, let’s encourage the little girl with CP who doesn’t think she matters. As a result, maybe 2020 will be the year cerebral palsy shines in the spotlight. We can do this!