05 OCT 2016
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Civil Rights

The global struggle for civil and human rights is ongoing but, even in societies where the most progress has been made, many people with CP lag well behind the 'majority'.

Why civil rights is an issue

At one extreme, there are state, municipal and tribal governments that either tacitly or explicitly support the lack of fundamental rights, and even the outright stigmatisation of people with CP. It can be because they are too preoccupied with the challenges of overcoming poverty and/or civil strife, or because their civil systems are founded in cultural superstitions or dogma. The rights of all people in such circumstances are vulnerable at best, and the plight of people with CP even more so.

At the other end of the spectrum are countries who have cemented the rights of the disabled with specific legislation or constitutional guarantees, and who have taken significant action to ensure those rights are protected. In these cases people with CP have basic rights to vote, and ever-more-equal access to information, public transportation and protections in the workplace. But even in these countries, many of these protections take too long to implement, and there are subtle undercurrents—from policies governing the number of therapeutic visits available through an insurance plan, to the kinds of workplace and education accommodations necessary for people with CP—that require us to be diligent.

And there is the well-intentioned, but much too passive, centre of the spectrum. Many countries have gone so far as to offer broad proclamations and legislative protections that could help people with CP. But there is no real commitment to enforcement or funding of the practical steps that must be taken to make the proclamations meaningful in people’s lives. In these cases, a child with CP can sit in the back of a classroom because the law requires that they receive an education, but there are no teachers trained to provide that education. Similarly, adults can apply for work, with no ability to get to or from a job, or have their personal care needs accommodated they can contribute their intellectual abilities.


Stories of change and challenge

Many countries in the world are making real progress on civil rights for people with disabilities, including people with cerebral palsy. These stories show that ordinary people with a vision can galvanise others to create change.


Finding a clean and safe place to change the incontinence pad of her son with cerebral palsy was the catalyst for Samantha Buck becoming a champion for Changing Places.

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Helping make a difference and changing perceptions in the world is what really drives Michelle Middleton. The 26 year old from Liverpool, United Kingdom, has cerebral palsy and is the creator of a project called ‘The Do’s and Dont’s of Disability’.

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Young people across the United Kingdom are using their past to fix the future, spreading messages that are important to them and making a real impact on their communities.

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Bruce Bonyhady

On 1 July 2013, the Australian government passed legislation to implement a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The groundswell of support and acceptance from all political parties in both state and federal governments was unprecedented.

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Dr Yen-Thanh Mac

One women's mission to change the term for cerebral palsy in Vietnam. Dr Yen-Thanh Mac sees this as the first step to change public perception and provide a pathway to more positive futures for people with CP in her country.

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