Our organization has now been in existence for over two decades, providing parents of children with Cerebral Palsy access to the resources needed to improve lives and limit the impact CP can have. Today, we speak with and help hundreds of families every day and the tens of thousands of people who Like our Page on Facebook engage with us on topics related to CP, parenthood and beyond. But we also are keenly aware of the need for Cerebral Palsy advocates in today’s day and age in order to make for a brighter tomorrow for all children facing any limitations caused by CP. A recent comment on our Page helped illuminate this even more.
Recently we shared a story on our Facebook from The Mighty regarding a fantastic waiter (and establishment) that impacted the life of a patron and her sibling, who has CP, by simplyproviding courtesy and kindness despite his limitations. The story was important because Phillip has unique needs and seemed more interested in a vacuum and broom than eating with his family. The waiter’s courteous behavior (he found a different table for Phillip to sit at so that he could enjoy the cleaning tools as play) led to the family being able to connect and enjoy their meal. The waiter worked to enable the family and he serves as a great example of aCerebral Palsy advocate, working to improve the lives of others with limitations.
The comments to our post reflected praise and congratulations. One member even asked for the name of the brewery so that they could attend and get the word out.
The comment was Hidden, the user banned. We have blurred her name and face to avoid backlash, as well as limit the attention she receives for this act. Anyone who goes on the Internet knows this behavior is unfortunately common. However, we didn’t want to let it go. This was an opportunity, not an “annoyance.”
The young woman above ignored countless comments from families who have been touched by Cerebral Palsy to make her comment. Quite clearly, she comes from a background that doesn’t include special needs individuals. As such, she has no awareness of how short sighted and limited her view was. She seems to be completely unaware that her right to space or peace is equal to and no greater than those with special needs. Parents of children with special needs work hard every day to accommodate the public and spare others any sort of disruption, within reason, related to their children. This is where Cerebral Palsy advocates come in.
Anyone who has spoken to a mother or father about a child with Cerebral Palsy will be touched by the love and kindness in their voice, as well as the obvious amount they care. It is our assumption the young lady above has not experienced any conversation like that. However, it is also up to Cerebral Palsy advocates (and even those in the expanded special needs community) to be outspoken in their work to raise awareness and to break down intolerance. Advocates must speak up to point out when the ‘r-word’ is thrown around. They must shut down mockery of any special needs child, whether being done directly or from afar, and explain why it is completely unacceptable. Cerebral Palsy advocates, perhaps more than ever, need to demonstrate that CP is not just a community of families, but a community of human beings eager to expand acceptance for all.
When Cerebral Palsy advocates break down barriers and create discussion that expands the thoughts of the short-sighted, a better world exists. By transforming the negative words and thoughts of others into an opportunity to engage, we can hopefully turn the tide on narrow minded schools of thoughts and make the future a brighter one for those here and to come!