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Why World CP Day and Disability Awareness Month Are Important

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Seventeen million. That’s the number of men, women, and children living with cerebral palsy, the most commonly diagnosed group of congenital disorders. Yet, not many people know very much about the diagnosis.

So, what is cerebral palsy? This medical diagnosis, usually causing a degree of disability, is a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture. It’s caused by damage that occurs to the immature brain as it develops, most often before birth. Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years.

What does this matter to you? Unless you have cerebral palsy or love somebody who does, probably not much. But that’s exactly why World Cerebral Palsy Day matters so much.

People with disabilities need more recognition for their unique attributes and contributions to the world. You see, too often, people with disabilities are known for their differences or for the abilities they lack, as defined by society.

We — disabled people — are so much more than a label from a diagnosis. We are simply people. But we are people who were dealt more challenging and complicated cards. Those cards, even if they give us more struggles, can also give us even more strength. And creativity. And special skills to adapt and solve problems with ingenuity and determination. We often have a special sense of humor and a deep compassion for underserved or misunderstood people.

That’s what World CP Day and Disability Awareness Month is all about: recognizing the millions of people who rise up from challenging experiences each day to join the rest of the world.

More importantly, this day and this month stands as a reminder: disability is just a word to describe the way a person might experience life. But the word disability does not determine a person’s value and impact in this life.

Getty image by Chinnapong.

Originally published: October 8, 2019
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