Tomorrow is World Cerebral Palsy Day, a campaign to support people with cerebral palsy that spans more than 65 countries. But it’s more than just an awareness day. World CP Day is a social movement to ensure the 17 million people living with cerebral palsy (CP) can enjoy the same rights and opportunities as the rest of society.
Only together can we bring global attention to the needs of those living with this challenging condition. Here’s everything you need to know to participate.
About the Day
World CP Day was launched in 2012 by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, an Australian nonprofit, and United Cerebral Palsy, an organization based in the U.S. It started out as an innovation campaign named “Change My World in 1 Minute,” which sought ideas from around the world for inventions that would “change the world” for people with CP. The project drew more than 470 ideas in its first year alone.
Since then, the project has evolved into a more of a social movement, coordinated each October 6th by a group of nonprofit cerebral palsy organizations called the World Cerebral Palsy Initiative (WCPI).
But through its evolvement, World Cerebral Palsy Day’s goal remains the same: to foster inclusion and create real change among people with CP. It does this by celebrating individuals’ achievements, recognizing their struggles, and connecting them to others in the wider community – which is larger than many people realize.
Understanding Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy, a permanent birth injury that affects movement, is the most common physical disability affecting children. In addition to the 17 million people around the world living with CP – or 1 in about 300 in the U.S. – another 350 million are close connections, whether relatives, friends, or doctors.
Still, in spite of its prevalence, cerebral palsy is poorly understood. For 1 thing, it’s complex. The impact of this birth injury impact can range widely in symptoms and severity, from mild weakness in 1 limb to complete loss of movement. Studies show that 1 in 4 children with CP cannot talk, 1 in 3 cannot walk, 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability, and 1 in 4 have epilepsy. Depending on their unique circumstances, individuals and families dealing with cerebral palsy have special requirements (such a hearing aids, speaking aids, and wheelchairs) that can impair quality of life. Some people need constant assistance throughout the day.
Another issue few people fully understand is that cerebral palsy is often preventable. CP is usually caused by brain injury due to medical negligence or improper care during pregnancy or childbirth. There is nothing to be done to reverse these life-altering mistakes. And at present, there is no cure.
It’s important to remember, however, that therapy and support can help people with CP of all types live a full and happy life. Too many people still receive ineffective therapies or lack solutions to everyday problems. World Cerebral Palsy Day aims to help create them.
How Can You Help?
World Cerebral Palsy Day isn’t an official holiday, but there are ways you can participate.
Start by checking for events in your local community. Every year, various CP organizations organize initiatives like walks and runs, festivals, conferences, and educational drives to teach people about the risks and preventative measures of the condition.
Or why not take your own initiative? WCPI provides tools on its website to help you get involved. You can download posters for your own event, for example. You could share your story on the campaign’s website, either about your experiences living with CP or your success using a world-changing solution that might work for others. You could spread awareness on social media (using the hashtag #worldcpday) about the challenges of fighting for disability rights and living with CP. One of the most impactful ways to take action is by donating to a special needs organization, as CP research is historically underfunded.
Even small contributions can make a big difference. Sometimes, people with CP just need to hear that someone is there for them. The important thing is to use your voice. As WCPI says, “it’s time to close the gap between the everyday circumstance and the real potential of people living with CP.”