For the 17 million people worldwide living with cerebral palsy and their 350 million relatives and caregivers, October 6 isn’t just another Friday. Tomorrow marks the 6th year of a critical social movement: World Cerebral Palsy (CP) Day.
The World CP campaign attributes its success to 6 focus areas: public awareness, civil rights, medical and therapeutic care, quality of life, education, and contribution. These remain the global CP community’s biggest barriers to opportunity. But World CP Day means more than just raising awareness about cerebral palsy and the issues that affect patients and families today. The project is also an opportunity to expose the disorder’s origins.
Changing the World for People with CP
Launched in 2012 by the nonprofit charity group World Cerebral Palsy Initiative, World CP Day now draws support from more than 380 organizations, advocacy groups, and medical institutions from 62 countries. With their help, World CP Day reaches local communities all over the globe with educational tools and resources, volunteer groups, and the means to share stories about the lives and achievements of people with CP.
The World CP Initiative believes that everyone with cerebral palsy deserves the same rights and opportunities as others. Sadly, few people understand the challenges threatening people living with the condition. Society as a whole shuns individuals with cerebral palsy, underrating their needs and assuming them unable to lead normal lives. In reality, they share the same concerns and goals as everyone else.
By dedicating time to celebrate cerebral palsy, we can shift how people think about the disorder. World CP Day gives a powerful voice to people with CP and reminds us that local action can help build global momentum in creating more inclusive societies.
Uncovering the Truth Behind
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common physical disabilities in children, but perhaps the least understood. Unknown to many, this group of disorders of the brain and nervous system can be caused by injury to an infant’s developing brain. One preventable injury, usually resulting from lack of oxygen to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth, that has lifelong and incurable effects.
Cerebral palsy can impair any number of development areas, including movement, speech, vision, hearing, and learning. Specific symptoms and responses vary from child to child. What many children do share, however, is their connection to medical error. All birth injuries are caused by improper or negligent care by a medical professional, yet doctors’ lack of transparency about their mistakes continues to fuel misunderstanding.
As the World CP Day website states:
“Doctors are reluctant to make a diagnosis, too many people receive ineffective therapies, too many individuals and their families lack access to basic information and support, too little money is being spent on research, and far too many societies keep people with CP out of sight, out of mind, and out of options. It is time to close the gap between the everyday circumstance and the real potential of people living with CP.”
What Are Your Plans for Championing Change?
Organizations and individuals in locations around the globe can find ways to celebrate their local CP community, take action, or learn more about specific social issues.
World Cerebral Palsy Day provides tools on its website to help ambassadors launch and market local campaigns in support of the movement’s “I Am Here” theme. These tools also serve as educational resources about cerebral palsy and related issues, such as diagnosis and treatment. If you or someone you know lives with cerebral palsy, you can add your story to a world map of others with similar experiences. To take a more hands-on approach, you could join an advocacy or research group, start a fundraiser to raise money for research, or donate.
However you choose to contribute, your efforts won’t go unnoticed. Any level of awareness can go a long way in giving someone with this challenging condition, as well as their brave families, friends, and caregivers, the support they need. A global force of energy and knowledge starts with simple, personal changes in attitudes about CP.