October 7th marks this year’s World Cerebral Palsy Day (WPCD). This is a day to celebrate individuals who are affected by CP, including the people diagnosed with this developmental disorder and their families and friends. This day acts as an opportunity to celebrate the lives of the individuals and what they have accomplished despite their challenges.
WPCD also acts as a day to connect organizations around the world with one another so they are better able to handle and support the needs of those with CP.
There are an estimated 17 million people around the globe living with cerebral palsy, making it the most common childhood disability.
This day brings 270 organizations from over 45 countries together to raise awareness and celebrate people with cerebral palsy. These organizations include universities and colleges, support groups, research groups, service organizations, schools and children’s hospitals.
Starting in 2012, World Cerebral Palsy Day was developed by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Australia and supported internationally by United Cerebral Palsy in the U.S. and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Canada. There are six key areas of awareness and change that World CP Day relies on as critical to its success.
World CP Day aims to bring more public awareness to this developmental disorder. Through international organizations and recognition, WCPD has created many platforms, including their “On The Map” campaign, to raise awareness. This tool allows people from around the world to share stories of how they have been personally affected by CP.
One thing that all of the organizations involved in the World CP Day celebrations have in common is they want to see a better world for those with disabilities, including CP. Government legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were created to empower people with disabilities and break down barriers to make our world more inclusive. The ADA prohibits discrimination in most aspects of a person’s life.
Despite the regulations that are enforced through the ADA, there are still strides to be made in order to provide a perfectly included world for those with disabilities.
Medicine and Therapy
Medical and therapy options can seem confusing for parents of children with this disorder. The organizations behind World Cerebral Palsy Day suggests that there are three “building blocks” to helping your child live their best life despite their diagnosis. The three things they recommend are:
- Determine the cause of your child’s CP. This can dictate which form of treatment and therapies work best and will help your child achieve their full potential. There are many different causes of cerebral palsy, so doctors may have a hard time determining how the CP developed or the severity of it.
- Get an early diagnosis. The earlier a child is diagnosed with CP, the sooner they can begin therapy and other effective treatment options. Diagnosing cerebral palsy involves different imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, which are not as widely available in developing countries as they are in the U.S. Not all medical specialists have the training or experience to diagnose CP.
- Find the most effective treatment. Cerebral palsy treatment is key to helping your child reach their full potential after they are diagnosed with the disorder. Children with CP can learn skills to help them adapt and achieve their daily goals through physical, occupational, speech and other cognitive therapies.
Quality of Life
Children and adults with cerebral palsy are challenged every moment of their lives by their disability. When they are given access to information and support options they can learn new ways to adapt and deal with their diagnosis. There are many assistive devices and tools that have been created for people who are specifically affected by CP, including walkers, orthotics and communication enhancing technology. These devices and tools enable those with CP to increase their mobility, communicate effectively with others and increase their overall quality of live.
People affected with disabilities of all kinds have just as much potential to succeed as able-bodied people do, and these assistive devices can help them reach it.
Special education programs are readily available to many children and adults in the United States. However, it is important for students to feel included in school activities and lessons, just as their peers are. To ensure that this happens, students must receive the appropriate support from their teachers, principals and other educators.
Education doesn’t stop after the classroom. In order to provide adequate public awareness and additions to civil rights laws, education must happen publicly as well. People must be educated about what this disorder is and how it affects those diagnosed with it.
People involved in the CP community have many talents. These contributions are recognized and leave a lasting impact on the life of a person with this disability. They also leave a lasting mark on our society and the world around us.
There are quite a few notable people with CP who have left their imprint on our society. One such star is comedian Josh Blue, who was voted NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2006. He often ties his diagnosis of CP into his stand up routines.
In 2008, Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa, was the first woman with a disability that competed in the Miss USA Pageant. Curran was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was two years old. She publicly speaks about her CP diagnosis and how she deals with her disability while competing in pageants. She has even started her own pageant, created especially for girls with special needs — the Miss You Can Do It Pageant.
How You Can Celebrate World Cerebral Palsy Day
There are many ways that you can get involved with World CP Day.
- Share your story on the World Cerebral Palsy Day website and join the community of others affected by CP.
- Check your community for local events, such as 5Ks, walk/runs or festivals that celebrate and raise awareness about cerebral palsy.
- Show support for others in your community who have CP or who have been touched in another way.
- Take the time to learn more about risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options that are often associated with cerebral palsy.