How I'm Speaking Out About Bullying as a High School Student With Cerebral Palsy

I have cerebral palsy (CP). It is no secret. You can tell by the way I walk that I have a disability. I have accepted it. I think that my cerebral palsy is a true blessing. I know that may sound strange, but it’s true. But not everyone else has accepted my CP. I know that because I have been bullied. Kids at school have always teased me about the way I walk, talk, eat and anything else they could think of to tear me down. If they understood cerebral palsy, they might not have teased me. They might have accepted that I was “different” and moved on.

When I was given the opportunity to do a Star Event with my club, the Family, Career, Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), I chose bullying as my project. However, I didn’t do it simply because I have been bullied. I had started at a new school and I saw a girl being bullied. I did not step in. I didn’t do anything because I was too scared. It’s one of those moments in the back of your mind where you think you know what you are going to do, but then when it actually happens, you chicken out.

I didn’t know what went into creating a Star Event at first. All I knew was that it might give me an opportunity to make a change — something I have been thirsty to do all my life. I started by setting up a Facebook page called Desiree’s Anti Bullying Project. I then did a service project at a home for troubled teens. I feel that my service project went really well, and I loved it. I also feel like I conquered a stereotype. While planning my service project, I was told by different people that I’d better be careful while at the center. I was told that the children there were very dangerous. By following through, I showed people that the residents at the center are not bad. They just made a bad choice. I had a chance to truly connect with them while I taught them about the effects of bullying. During this project, I did and continue to do many other things, including making a YouTube video called “Overcomer — My Bullying Story.”

I competed at regionals where I gave a speech and displayed my 35-page portfolio. I received a gold medal and was sent to state. I also received a gold medal at state, and I am going to nationals in California where I will be representing Missouri in the category of advocacy.

During this project, I have had so much support from my community. I have so many people who are helping me fundraise for my trip to nationals, and not because they feel sorry for me. They do not look at me as a charity case. They look at me like people who have been greatly affected by bullying themselves.

This project has taught me so much. If you believe in something, nothing should stop you from standing up for it. This is so much more than a school project. This is making a difference and making the world a better place. Making a change starts with one person, and that one person can be you. The sky is your only limit. This project has restored my faith that I have cerebral palsy, but cerebral palsy does not have me. I can do anything I set my mind to, and so can you.

Desiree Ferguson - teen girl standing outside, holding a small medal
Desiree with her medal.

Follow this journey at Desiree’s Anti Bullying Project.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us the moment you stood up for yourself or your child in regards to disability or disease, or a moment you wish you had? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Cerebral Palsy

To Children With Cerebral Palsy Who Feel Like They'll Never Be Accepted

If I told you my life with cerebral palsy has been easy, that would be a lie. My body constantly aches, I struggle fitting orthotics in my shoes and have all kinds of doctors’ appointments and shots. If I told you growing up making friends was easy, that would be a lie, too. No one [...]

Visiting Disneyland With Our Daughter With Cerebral Palsy

We just survived a day at Disneyland with my 9-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy, my 12-year-old daughter and her friend. This day required extra thought and planning. We circled around the blue placard parking lot to find the closest spot, then navigated the tram ramps to get to the main gate. At every ride, [...]

How Martial Arts Made Me Feel Empowered With My Cerebral Palsy

My name is Brandon Ryan. I am 30 years old and have spastic cerebral palsy (CP). Martial arts have always been a part of my life. In many ways, martial arts was an escape for me. It was an escape from being in my wheelchair, an escape from the braces, and an escape from other [...]

A Letter to My Teenaged Self With Cerebral Palsy and Diabetes

Dear Teenaged Brooks, I get it. Right now, all you want to do is fit in. You want to belong, feel important and be valued. Well, guess what? You already are important, you already belong, and you are already valued far more than you could ever know. Thanks to your cerebral palsy, you walk a little [...]