Why I’m observing World Cerebral Palsy Day today
World Cerebral Palsy Day takes place today (Wednesday 6 October 2021) and is co-ordinated by the World Cerebral Palsy initiative. Their vision is to ensure that children and adults with cerebral palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society.
Some of the key targets for change are centred on improving outcomes and treatment; changing how disability is perceived; and facilitating everyone to make a contribution to society.
Increasing understanding of the causes and treatment of cerebral palsy
One key target is to increase the understanding of cerebral palsy by addressing the causes, achieving earlier diagnosis, and providing effective treatment.
The causes of cerebral palsy can be complex, occurring before, during or shortly after birth. Sometimes the cause is preventable and other times it remains unknown.
In the developing world, there are a larger number of preventable cases of cerebral palsy which could be avoided with better access to good medical care and this is one of the target areas for change.
Changing the way cerebral palsy is seen across the world
One of the key areas for change is in the area of civil rights.
In some parts of the world, the rights of people with disabilities are well recognised and protected, but in others disability still carries a huge stigma and this is something which I think we would all agree must change.
Enabling people with cerebral palsy to make a valuable contribution to society
This target area for change focuses on the fact that living life to the full involves making a contribution.
An inspirational person who has driven huge change in this area is Laura O’Reilly, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List earlier this year. Laura is the founder of Fighting Chance, which helps people with disabilities access opportunities when they finish school.
Laura’s motivation came from the struggle that her younger brother, Shane, experienced who Laura describes as having profound physical and moderate intellectual disability:
“Growing up, we knew what Shane was capable of, yet society was saying ‘you’re not going to do anything’, and that seemed like a tragedy for him and such a waste for society. Society should be supporting every person to be their maximum selves. Instead of waiting for that to happen, we decided to do something about it and founded Fighting Chance.”
Today, Fighting Chance supports over 1,000 people in recreational and employment opportunities.
As part of a team working with families affected by cerebral palsy, guiding them through the legal process of securing compensation for their child’s brain injury, cerebral palsy is a condition that is very close to my heart.
In August of this year we launched an Instagram account called Little Champions to celebrate the courage and determination of children living with a brain injury. Since its inception two months ago, being a part of Little Champions on Instagram has been a huge pleasure and we now have hundreds of followers many of whom are children with cerebral palsy.
We have shared stories of individual little champions to encourage others; inspirational quotes to keep us all going; information about charities working to support families; and we have even shared pictures of our furry friends with whom we share our lives!
In preparing for World Cerebral Palsy Day we have been running a campaign asking anyone affected by cerebral palsy (either because they have cerebral palsy or because they work with, care about or love someone with cerebral palsy) to send in a selfie and we have collated these and these will be shared on Little Champions Instagram today.
Do check us out and join in the fun: https://www.instagram.com/little__champions/
I look forward to seeing you there!