March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. In honor of the special occasion, the Birth Injury Justice Center is sharing ways people can help celebrate and spread awareness about cerebral palsy.
Learn about how you can get involved this month, whether it’s by wearing the color green, using the #GoGreen4CP hashtag, or calling for accessibility changes to support the cerebral palsy community.
What Is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month?
National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is a month-long event designed to celebrate people diagnosed with cerebral palsy and spread awareness about this condition. During this time, those living with cerebral palsy are also encouraged to come forward to share their stories and support one another.
Cerebral palsy is a collection of neurological disorders affecting mobility and muscle tone. Sadly, this permanent disability is too often caused by preventable birth injuries like brain damage that can stem from acts of negligence by doctors and other medical staff.
More than 1 million people are living with cerebral palsy in the United States, and 10,000 babies are diagnosed every year.
National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month serves as a platform to educate the general public and encourage them to become allies for the cerebral palsy community. Allies are critical in advocating for inclusive spaces, continued research to find new treatment options, funding for wheelchair-accessible buildings, and more.
While the push for inclusive spaces is a year-round effort, National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is the perfect time to educate communities about this disability and the unique barriers people with cerebral palsy face every day. As more progress is made, we can help people with cerebral palsy have broader access to educational, employment, and health care opportunities.
Spreading Cerebral Palsy Awareness and Becoming an Ally
Diversity and inclusion are beginning to be more widely understood. More people are making efforts to support each other, regardless of their abilities, economic status, race, religion, age, and gender. Great progress has been made — including for those in the cerebral palsy community — but there is still more work to be done.
One of the best ways to spread cerebral palsy awareness is to embrace diversity and address stereotypes. Talking about diversity and inclusion while also listening to the needs of differently abled individuals is a great way to support the cerebral palsy community.
Even U.S. lawmakers are finding ways to increase awareness and advocate for those with cerebral palsy. Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee introduced the Cerebral Palsy Research Authorization Act of 2023 this month to secure $5 million in cerebral palsy research funding for the Centers for Disease Control.
“The lack of dedicated federal funding has limited any potential advances into the care and treatment of cerebral palsy,” said Congressman Cohen. “There is no standard of care for treating CP, and very few health care providers specialize in treating adults with CP.”
Schools are becoming more inclusive by providing special support for those with disabilities so they can thrive in an educational environment. In fact, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation started its “Just Say Hi” programming to help students engage with fellow peers who might be different from them. Encouraging this open dialogue can help young students see we are much more connected than we realize.
Businesses can show their support to the disability community by hiring individuals with conditions such as cerebral palsy and providing accommodations. This can bring new and valuable perspectives into the workforce and help companies thrive.
Another important way to spread cerebral palsy awareness is by changing the way we speak about the disability community. The words and language we use can go a long way in shaping how people feel.
Allies can learn how to avoid derogatory terms like “spaz” and “spastic” that are harmful to individuals with cerebral palsy. It is important to never assume a person with a disability is incompetent or unable to do what others without disabilities can do.
Cerebral palsy and other disabilities do not define an individual. It is important to ask questions and listen carefully to the needs and feelings of those in the disability community.
How to Show Your Support
There are many different ways you can spread cerebral palsy awareness. One of the most popular ways to show your support for National Cerebral Palsy Month is to wear the color green. This color is associated with growth, vibrancy, and renewal of life.
Here are a few additional ways to show your support for the cerebral palsy community:
- Donate to organizations such as the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to support the community
- Encourage people to learn more about cerebral palsy on National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day on March 25
- Help advocate for more accessibility accommodations in public spaces so people with cerebral palsy have more freedom
- Join a cerebral palsy advocacy group to share your story and support others
- Share photos and stories about cerebral palsy online
- Support businesses that are allies to the disability community
- Use #GoGreen4CP to raise awareness on social media
- Write a letter to lawmakers to advocate for federal funding for cerebral palsy research using the GoGreen4CP template
If you are interested in supporting the cerebral palsy community year-round, consider joining a cerebral palsy support group. There are plenty of online and in-person support groups around the country where you can share your story and be there for others.
Since its start in 2006, National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month has fostered strength and unity among the cerebral palsy community and will continue to do so for years to come.