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The Importance of Teaching Your Children About Disability

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I have mild spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. This means it mostly affects my legs. When I was small I did not realize I was any different from anyone else. My family never treated me differently, and I knew I had CP. When I would get upset over things I could not do, my Nana would tell me she believes God gave everyone something that made them special, and CP was mine.

When I started school, I was in only mainstream classes. No one else had a disability of any kind, and suddenly CP was not what made me special because these kids did not understand. They made fun of the way I walk and complained about how slow I was. They thought my legs were broken because of my AFO braces. I was excluded a lot from recess; no one wanted to play with me because I couldn’t keep up.

Luckily I had a few friends who looked past all, and I am grateful that I found them. But I started to feel very alone and that no one else was like me, so I tried to blend in. This went on through fourth grade. The major event that changed everything was field day that year. I left school that day in tears. No kid wanted me on their team because they did not want to lose.

I felt so alone in this world, but after some thought I realized they didn’t understand and I hadn’t tried to help them understand. I had been trying to fit in and had never explained about my CP. I started opening up and speaking about why I was different. I made my Facebook page A Stairway to the Stars: Heaven’s Journey With CP shortly after that, and with the help of Charisse Hogan, Richelle Heath and many friends I met through Facebook I came to accept that it’s OK to be different.

I now use my page as well as #CPDreamTeam t-shirts, pageants and community events in an effort to help the world understand how important it is to teach your kids about difference and disability and to let other kids like me know they aren’t alone. I pray my efforts will in some way prevent some of them from going through the things I have gone through. I believe if we were all meant to be the same, God would have made us all the same — but how boring would that be? Never be afraid to be you, and always be willing to share your story, because you never know who it may help!

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Originally published: July 26, 2017
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