Every month in October the disability Cerebral Palsy is celebrated and brought to the attention of millions of people via, social media. Where children, adults, and families proudly wear the color green to symbolize the green ribbon that represents Cerebral Palsy, I am a strong believer that there is absolutely power in numbers. As it stands right now, 17 million people have a form, of Cerebral Palsy. And I am proud to say that I am one of the 17 million to have it.
Cerebral Palsy is the most common childhood disabilities out there today, and yet what is not common among the general population is the various misconceptions about Cerebral Palsy (CP.) And those misconceptions can range from our ability to have careers and families, to living an independent life that includes shopping for our own food to driving our own cars. While it is true adaptations would obviously have to be made, but we do not lose the ability to live our own lives, simply because we have a disability. If I am being totally honest with you, it wasn’t until I began to take both my advocacy work, and my writing seriously enough to consider it a career for myself down the line, that I saw having Cerebral Palsy as less as a happenstance and more a unique set of abilities and all around tool I could use to get my voice heard, and seen as an equal in the internet arena easily then I could in society. The reason I believe that society is so hard to accept anything or anyone who is “different” is yes, the unknown does bring a dose of fear with it, but also because They simply don’t know enough to separate whatever it is the person(s) may have and see them as a human being first.
That’s why bringing awareness to Cerebral Palsy and the disability community as a whole is so much more than just the color green to me. To me, it means there are 17 million people who have fought and continue to fight, strive and withstand unthinkable odds against them to live a life that is not only in theirs, but it is also their right to want to better themselves in world that is supposedly made for everyone but excludes anything and everyone that they can not relate to or understand. I have said before that when you are born into adversity that you do not know how not to fight. And that is or should be the motto of the CP community in my opinion.
Yes, it is true there are moments where I wish I could break up with my CP. But, I know that when I have these infamous “CP moments” that they are simply here to remind me that I am human; that I have moments just like anyone else would. And that these moments are only here to strengthen me more and not weaken me like I believe they are doing at the time. No challenge or obstacle you’re given in your life will be easy to solve, and you may or may not solve said challenge or obstacle right away, but once it because a part of you rather than something that is always against you it can be something really worthwhile and beautiful to have within your possession. And to think that mine just so happens to have a simple color in its equation is pretty cool.
Having CP, and being open about my journey with it has taught me so much about myself. For instance, Finding my own voice. And how impactful and powerful that feels to me being that I am a woman with a disability. I truly meant it when I said that your voice is what the world needs to hear. Because everyone has their own story; with their own meaningful story to tell. And with that story comes personal experiences and knowledge that while no one knows about but you can still be a teaching tool for someone else.
So, while I support the color green and why 17 million people including myself wear it. I also support the message that follows that has nothing to do with a color or a ribbon, but rather the person(s) that live with, deal, manage, and adapt with having Cerebral Palsy every day of their lives. That are the true symbols of awareness and hope for the future in my opinion. It is because of these 17 million people that having Cerebral Palsy, (CP.) Means more than just wearing the color green.
If we as a community, truly want to bring awareness for Cerebral Palsy, then we have to use our unique abilities that I truly believe CP gives us, and do what we can to bring about the impact and change we want so badly for our community. Let’s represent beyond the color green, and represent as a unified community with one unified and very powerful voice. After all, we are people before we are disabled. So, let’s start showing that we are human and equal just as much as the able-bodied community. Let’s start moving beyond the color green, and start moving toward a movement that can not be so easily dismissed or scrolled past by society. Let’s start making Cerebral Palsy Awareness more about a reminder to wear green in support, but rather than start the process of actual inclusion among and in society and the general public.