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Why My Cerebral Palsy Is Both a Challenge and a Gift

Cerebral palsy has without a doubt been the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. Twenty-five years as someone with CP has taught me one of the most important and valuable lessons many without disabilities never learn: there is beauty in even the biggest of hurdles.

It is because of cerebral palsy that I try to live life to the fullest; it is because of cerebral palsy that I have the strength to conquer anything. It is because of cerebral palsy that I have purpose and so much peace. I do have “off days,” moments where I wonder “why me?” but I think that is a perfectly normal human response. I get frustrated. I feel anger. I sometimes picture what I think I would have been like, what I would be into career-wise. But as I’m experiencing life, I’m slowly understanding so much more about why I have the gift of cerebral palsy.

Yes, I consider cerebral palsy to be a gift. For the last year or so, I have been starting into my journey of disability advocacy. It has shown me that not only do I have a story and struggles worth giving a voice to, but so does everyone else — disability or no disability. We are all unique and have our own challenges. Also, I have found that just about all families are affected by disabilities in some way; everybody has someone they know who faces this in some capacity. Society has labeled those who face challenges as “different,” but why don’t we start looking at it as a chance to make a positive impact on others? We do have purpose and we do add value! If our personal outlook changes, we might see less of a stereotype being built around us.

Disabilities can be a positive aspect of life. My goal as a young up-and-coming advocate is not to just share my story, but also encourage other people to get out there and find your voice. Each state has an independent living council. Each state has legislators who want to know the issues you have and how you feel about what’s going on in this country regarding those with disabilities. Speak your mind and do what you can. The country needs advocates. The world needs them. The worst feeling in the world is not knowing who you are; I believe the key to finding it is to use your gift and seize every opportunity that comes your way.

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Thinkstock photo by Jupiter Images.