6 OCTOBER 2017
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Public Awareness

Although cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood, it is widely misunderstood. Through World CP Day, we have the opportunity to raise awareness of CP in our communities and assist others to look beyond the disability.

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.


‘Different is beautiful’ is the message that Charisse Hogan is passionate about delivering to people across the world, to create public awareness about cerebral palsy and promote acceptance and inclusion of people with a disability.

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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...

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In Ghana, children with cerebral palsy are often hidden from view, with no education and limited health care. Our guest blogger, Hannah Awadzi, started the Special Mothers Project to change this...

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Femi Gbadebo and his wife Alaba

One man’s vision for Nigeria’s cerebral palsy community - to create acceptance and understanding.

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