October 6th is World Cerebral Palsy Day 2020, a campaign to support the 17 million people living with cerebral palsy, that spans more than 65 countries. Through this day, participants make their voices heard so people with cerebral palsy can enjoy the same rights and opportunities as the rest of society. Here’s everything you need to know to participate.
About the Day
World Cerebral Palsy Day was launched in 2012 by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, an Australian nonprofit, and United Cerebral Palsy, an organization based in the U.S. It started out as an innovation campaign named “Change My World in 1 Minute,” which sought ideas from around the world for inventions that could improve the lives of cerebral palsy patients.
The project drew more than 470 ideas in its first year alone. Since then, World Cerebral Palsy Day has evolved into more of a social movement, but the goal remains the same: to foster inclusion and create real change among people with this condition.
World Cerebral Palsy Day does this by celebrating individuals’ achievements, recognizing their struggles, and connecting them to others in the wider community — which is larger than many people realize.
Understanding Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy, a permanent birth injury that affects movement, is the most common physical disability affecting children.
In addition to the 17 million people around the world living with cerebral palsy — or 1 in about 300 in the U.S. — another 350 million are close connections, whether relatives, friends, or doctors.
Still, in spite of its prevalence, cerebral palsy is poorly understood. For one thing, it’s complex. The impact of this birth injury can range widely in symptoms and severity, from mild weakness in a single limb to complete loss of movement.
Studies show that 1 in 4 children with cerebral palsy cannot talk, 1 in 3 cannot walk, 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability, and 1 in 4 have epilepsy.
Depending on their unique circumstances, individuals and families dealing with cerebral palsy have special requirements (such as hearing aids, speaking aids, and wheelchairs) that can improve quality of life. Some people need constant assistance throughout the day.
Another issue few people fully understand is that cerebral palsy is often preventable. Cerebral palsy can be caused by a birth injury due to medical negligence or improper care during pregnancy or childbirth. There is nothing to be done to reverse these life-altering mistakes, and at present there is no cure.
It’s important to remember, however, that therapy and support can help people with cerebral palsy live full and happy lives. Too many people still receive ineffective therapies or lack solutions to everyday problems. World Cerebral Palsy Day aims to help create them.
How You Can Participate in World Cerebral Palsy Day
There are plenty of ways you can take part in World Cerebral Palsy Day 2020. Start by checking for events in your local community. Every year, cerebral palsy organizations host events like walks and runs, festivals, conferences, and educational drives to teach people about the risks and preventative measures of the condition.
Due to the coronavirus, most celebrations this year will take place online. While this may be disappointing for some, online events can allow you to do your part no matter where you live.
You can also access tools on the World Cerebral Palsy Day website to get involved. You can download the official World Cerebral Palsy Day logo for your own online event, for example.
Other ways to get involved include:
- Sharing your story on the World Cerebral Palsy Day website, either about your experiences living with cerebral palsy or your success using treatments/therapies that might work for others
- Spreading awareness on social media (using the hashtag #worldcpday) about the challenges of fighting for disability rights and living with this condition
- Donating to a cerebral palsy organization or fundraising event
Even small contributions can make a big difference. Sometimes, people with cerebral palsy just need to hear that someone is there for them. The important thing is to use your voice and participate in ways that work best for you.
Only together can we bring global attention to the needs of those living with this challenging condition.