People living with cerebral palsy (CP) are often ‘invisible' in the community, but this World Cerebral Palsy Day organisers are campaigning to put the spotlight on people's stories and advocate for change.
Celebrated on 6 October each year, the day aims to highlight six key issues that affect people with CP, irrespective of their circumstances, including civil rights, public awareness, medical/therapeutic, quality of life, education and contribution.
There are currently 17 million people with CP in the world, with approximately 34,000 living in Australia.
World Cerebral Palsy Day Manager at Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Robyn Cummins, says “our vision is to ensure that children and adults with CP have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society”.
More than just an awareness day, World CP Day celebrates the achievements of those with CP and the organisations that support them, connecting people and organisations across the globe, and creating a platform for social change and education campaigns.
People are encouraged to follow the World CP Day Facebook page to comment and share content, use the We Are Here Facebook frame when posting photographs on social media, and reach out to their local media to run a story on the achievements of those with CP or an issue that is a barrier to full inclusion.
“We also ask people to post their I Am Here story, location and photo on the World CP Day Map. To date, people from 110 countries have posted,” says Mrs Cummins.
A significant number of these stories are shared from people in Australia.
Christopher, from Victoria, shared his story.
“I’m almost 9 years old. I can run a whole lot better than I walk, I use a wheelchair some of the time...mum says I’m cheeky, stubborn and very strong willed. I’m about to have a big operation but that won’t stop me.”
Jess, from South Australia, wrote of her experience.
“I was born at five months and have CP and vision impairment. I work with kids with CP and that makes me happy to see them happy and not be complaining about how much pain they are in. My goals are to try and help as many people as I can travelling around the world as a missionary. I just want people to feel happy they are alive.”
Christy, from New South Wales, expressed pride in CP research.
“Since working for Cerebral Palsy Alliance, I have met so many inspiring children and adults and I want to support the work that we do here. I am passionate about the work that our research team are doing and hope there will continue to be advances in early detection.”
The I Am Here campaign also features a number of different tools to help people raise awareness, share issues and educate their community, including posters, placards, and infographics, available to download in a number of different languages.
Another initiative is the World CP Day Awards, aimed to reward projects or campaigns that have created significant change to those with CP, with the total prize money close to AUD$28,000. Nominations have closed with the winners to be announced on the day.
Jessica Hampton, a member of the Communications Team at Cerebral Palsy Australia, says “by raising awareness around CP, we can help the wider community to see and understand the different circumstances of others, to view this diversity as a strength and not a weakness, and to work towards inclusion.”
For more information on World CP Day, visit their website.
For more information on disability support and services, please visit DisabilitySupportGuide.com.au