Straight A's for Cerebral Palsy
Posted Mar 23, 2023 by Jacquie Robison
March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness month, and WAWOS founder, Jacquie Robison, shares some thoughts on what it means to really support inclusion.
Green is the color of advocacy for cerebral palsy, the most common motor disability in childhood. March 25th is CP Awareness Day, and my family, together with so many others, will be wearing our green.
Getting the word out through awareness-building is important, but it's equally important that we not stop there. At a recent Sew For Service corporate event, I spoke about a report card for Cerebral Palsy, and getting straight A's: Awareness. Advocacy. Action.
AWARENESS: Yes, it starts with awareness. We need to acknowledge and understand that accessibility for all is not yet a reality. We need to agree that everyone deserves to be seen for their full self, and not defined by a diagnosis or an assistive device. It also means talking to your neuro-typical kids about disability, so we normalize that there is no 'normal'. Everyone has a place and is worthy. Every person belongs.
ADVOCACY: Being an advocate for change is possible in ways big and small. Disability inclusion means listening to adults and kids with disabilities when they talk about inequities they face, and believing them when they share how it feels. It means speaking up and standing up for people with physical differences and disabilities. This can start with identifying where there are gaps in access and being mindful that everyone wants agency over themselves. Are the aisles in your local store wide enough so someone with a walker or wheelchair can safely and easily navigate them? Are the bathrooms at your favorite restaurant accessible -- with wide doorways and low sinks? Thinking about disability inclusion and design from the beginning will provide benefits for so many individuals.
ACTION: Take an active role in creating the change you want to see in your community, in your marketing, and at your company.
Retailers and marketers - are you representing people with disabilities in your campaigns? If you see it, you can be it, and normalizing physical difference will move the needle forward.
Businesses - are you hiring qualified people with disabilities? From a recent article in Inc, a 2018 study of 140 U.S. companies by Accenture showed that businesses actively employing people with disabilities generated 28 percent higher average revenues than those that did not, and profit margins were 30 percent above non-disabled workers.
Pioneering disability rights activist Judith Heumann said, "The way society thinks about disability needs to evolve, as too many people see disability as something to loathe or fear. By recognizing how disabled people enrich our communities, we can all be empowered to make sure disabled people are included." RIP, Judith. We will continue your work through action.