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Why Cerebral Palsy Awareness Matters

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When I was growing up, I really didn’t know what cerebral palsy was or why I had it. It wasn’t discussed, and I didn’t meet another person with CP until I attended college. Here we are decades later (I’m almost 44), CP is the most common childhood disability, with 17 million affected worldwide and it seems no one in the media is talking about it. I know they can’t focus on CP all year round, but where are they now?

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. March 25 is National CP Awareness Day in the United States. I wouldn’t know about either one were it not for Facebook. This is unacceptable! I raise awareness so my young CP friends and so many other advocates won’t have to keep making bracelets, buttons, shirts, etc. just so the world sees us. We, just like those with any other condition or disability, deserve to be recognized during the appropriate times of the year.

Can you remember an October — also the same month as World CP Day (but are you aware of it?) — when you didn’t hear about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and all  the products you can buy to show support? I can’t. One year, my local community paper was printed in pink! I believe in raising awareness for all conditions and disabilities. I just don’t understand why CP is shafted ever year.

I will continue to advocate for CP awareness. I do it for my younger self; she didn’t have Facebook, or a wonderful community like What Cerebral Palsy Looks Like (a page I created to shatter stereotypes by showing the world what we can do). But most importantly, I do it for the 17 million who feel they, too, are being ignored. Although the media continues to be speechless, we are here, our voices will be heard and the CP community will continue advocating and raising awareness. I dream of the day when hearing about Cerebral Palsy Month and National Cerebral Palsy Day will be as automatic as hearing about the Kardashians.

The media needs to be reminded that green isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day! Call or write to your local news stations, tweet the national morning shows, post on their Facebook pages and tell them to go green for CP! There’s a little boy or girl somewhere in the world with CP who doesn’t think he or she matters. Let’s show them they do matter, that cerebral palsy awareness matters. Keep showing the world what CP looks like! Perhaps 2018 will be the year cerebral palsy gets its well-deserved — and long overdue — moment in the spotlight.

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Originally published: March 23, 2017
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