Why public awareness is an issue
CP is a complex, lifelong disability. It primarily affects movement, but people with CP may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments. It can be mild – a weakness in one hand – to severe – where people have little control over movements or speech and may need 24 hour assistance.
People living with CP can experience a range of responses from others in their communities.
On one end of the spectrum, they can face deep-seated but misguided sympathy, or even pity. Though intentions are good, they infantilise the person with CP. They can be smothered with (too much) love, and spoken to in a simple, childlike way. Others can subconsciously over-protect a person with CP, and thus prevent them from having essential life experiences.
On the other end of the spectrum, CP is viewed through deep seated cultural beliefs. It may be seen as validation of superstitions about the mother, or wrath upon a family. Some even believe that CP is contagious or that a child with CP brings shame to a family. Mothers may be abandoned with their child, or a person with CP lives their lives in an institution.
And in the middle are thousands of fine people who still find it difficult to make eye contact or know how to communicate with someone who has CP. It is not that they feel any ill will, it is just best—maybe even polite—to not engage.
There is nothing to be gained in blaming people for their ignorance about CP. Instead, we will work to put an end to it. We have the ability and the moral obligation to ensure everyone knows the real truth, and acts accordingly.
Stories of change
How people around the world are spreading the word about CP and making a big impact in their communities.
Farida Bedwei may have Cerebral Palsy (CP) but she has never let it define what she is, and is not, capable of achieving. The highly successful entrepreneur and software engineer...
The 2017 World Cerebral Palsy Day Public Awareness Award winner, Purple Field Production’s film titled Lisilojulikana (The Unknown), aims to combat the fear and superstition attached to children with cerebral palsy in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.
When one mother of a child with cerebral palsy decided to tackle negative perceptions surrounding the condition, the people of Kenya found resistance was futile.
Every 22 hours, a baby is born with cerebral palsy in the Netherlands. Approximately 50 per cent of all children in the Dutch pediatric rehabilitation system have cerebral palsy.
Building empathy for the challenges faced by people with CP was the starting point for this successful World CP Day campaign by the Spastic Children’s Foundation of Turkey. Guest blogger, Nigar Evgin who is the General Director of the Foundation, explains how they did it...