Living with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy hinders coordination of the muscles and movement of the body. Its severity can range dramatically, from affecting just one body part to leaving the afflicted person unable to move on their own. One of my closest friends has the condition. Jonathan uses crutches to walk and takes much longer to do tasks that are quite simple for many others. It is a visible disability that, despite causing great difficulties for the sufferer, can be managed to allow those with cerebral palsy to live fulfilling lives.
Beyond physical therapy and medical equipment, there are many resources in Canada and the United States for youth with cerebral palsy. United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), located in Washington, D.C., strives to provide education and support services for people on all parts of the cerebral palsy spectrum. Their network has been operating since 1949 and has fought for civil rights and public policies to support people with disabilities. Local service providers, or affiliates, work in individual communities to help meet the unique needs people have in specific areas. This includes housing, therapy, recreational programs, and employment assistance. Parents and caregivers can turn to My Child Without Limits, their online resource, to aid their offspring and address any developmental concerns.
Canada has similar organizations offering support. The Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy (OFCP) focuses on “independence, inclusion, choice and full-integration” for people with the condition. Their offerings are akin to UCP. They include financial support, therapy, and direct help from program facilitators. The OFCP also strives to provide scholarships, assistive devices, and grants for research relative to cerebral palsy. All of these activities are funded through the resale of used goods and donations. A very similar organization is the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia. They work to raise awareness of the disability amongst communities and provide help related to employment, recreational activities, and assistive devices.
There are many programs to turn to for those with cerebral palsy. Jonathan has benefitted from physical therapy, recreational programs at hospitals, and support from his family. He has gone on to graduate from college and build a career in media production and writing. The help he has received has been coupled with his own determination and endless optimism. He frequents the gym and spends the extra time needed to type up projects without seeking out any help to do so. He works and attends meetings by utilizing door-to-door accessible transportation that the Toronto Transit Commission offers via Wheel-Trans. Jonathan’s strength in the face of his unfortunate situation has always been an inspiration to me, and I am very proud to call him a close friend.
Those with cerebral palsy have made options available to them to reach out for help. Whether their needs are related to finding a job, joining a recreational program to make friends, or receiving aid in mobility, help is readily available. This assistance is not a weakness – instead, it provides the boost that allows people to utilize their many strengths and achieve their true potential. Jonathan may receive help, but his intelligence, hard work, and creativity are wholly his own talents. If you or someone you know has cerebral palsy, there is help out to there to unlock the potential within.
Cerebral Palsy Assocation of British Columbia. “Our Mission.” http://bccerebralpalsy.com/about-us/mission-vision/
The Ontario Federation of Cerebral Palsy. “About the OCFP.” https://www.ofcp.ca/about-the-ofcp/
United Cerebral Palsy. “About United Cerebral Palsy.” http://ucp.org/about/