With March being widely recognized as Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, we decided to honor the occasion with a simple call to action for our community. One of the most frequent questions families ask us is how we recommend increasing Cerebral Palsy awareness, both during this month and year-round. While there is a wide assortment of options, including wearing green, we do have another suggestion for 2015.
The one thing we encourage or recommend families do for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is to remain open and proud by starting a conversation about Cerebral Palsy. Each of you is an amazing model of strength for the world around you. While feelings of isolation can be far too common, the reality is that parents of special needs children are tremendous models for what they prove is possible each and every day. Each one of you has something that can be learned by others because of the unique challenges you face every day.
But this isn’t about flattery. Instead, our call to action is about breaking down barriers between parents of children with CP and an unknowing public. The sad truth is that there is an extreme lack of awareness about almost all of the features and challenges associated with Cerebral Palsy, and most people don’t know what they don’t know.
Whether it’s clarifying to someone that Cerebral Palsy does not mean your child doesn’t understand just as well, or explaining that your child’s hand or limp doesn’t mean your child isn’t ‘able,’ simply explaining the truth behind CP means more than you can imagine. While a t-shirt may spark awareness that you know or have a child with Cerebral Palsy, encouraging dialogue about the condition can do so much more.
Of course, this is all easier said than done. It takes courage to be open and candid about your experience. However, the impact can be so important because of the walls it can break down and the reach you can establish well beyond the person you’re directly speaking to.
Your child is not ‘sick.’ You are not seeking pity. Your child lives with Cerebral Palsy and you’re their biggest fan. When someone asks about your Cerebral Palsy Awareness-related Facebook update/profile picture, your green shirt, or politely asks about your child in a wheelchair, we hope you’ll also ask if they have any questions about CP. We hope to encourage awareness by having a discussion. Because who doesn’t want to feel heard?
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Congratulations for all the strength you and your family have shown thus far. We hope to hear your stories on our Facebook Page and in the comments below regarding Cerebral Palsy Awareness and your wonderful child!