This week is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week and today, 7th October, is World CP Day. As someone with Cerebral Palsy, I’m delighted to be part of such an occasion that will highlight Cerebral Palsy, raise awareness of the condition and celebrate the achievements of those who have CP.
I’ve always found that disability and Cerebral Palsy are viewed in a negative light and both are hugely misunderstood. My recent book, “Does it wet the bed?” highlights the misconceptions that I’ve fought against, the pity which I’ve tried hard to ignore and the discrimination which I’ve refused to let destroy my confidence. It was really important to me that people knew that having Cerebral Palsy hasn’t held me back or ruined my life. Far from! I’ve enjoyed a mainstream education and got a 2:1 Honours degree; held down a full time job before venturing into self-employment and most importantly to me, I’ve become a wife and mother.
As a society, I don’t think disability is discussed enough and World CP Day is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn more about the condition and hopefully, challenge their own perceptions about people with Cerebral Palsy. I’ll be hosting a live Q&A session on Twitter between 1-2pm GMT (@Aideen23Henry) so that people can ask questions about Cerebral Palsy, what it’s like to live with the condition and the experiences I’ve had as a result of having Cerebral Palsy. I really hope people will take this opportunity to learn more about it and that this whole week gives people with CP a voice.
But it must go beyond that. When this week is over, we shouldn’t just forget about it. We need to get our politicians to understand the issues which people with CP (and other disabilities) face and get them doing more to remove the barriers which still exist within society. We need to raise awareness with employers and ask them to provide more opportunities to those with Cerebral Palsy. And we need to constantly challenge the perceptions of the general public so that eventually, there are no barriers to people with Cerebral Palsy living fulfilling and rewarding lives.