Nine years ago, I had no idea what Cerebral Palsy was or how it would become a part of our everyday life. Like many, I never knew anything about the most common childhood disability and how it impacts millions worldwide. But, all of that would change on a cold October morning in 2010, when our daughter Olivia was born.
I remember the first time I laid eyes on her. She was lying in an incubator in the NICU, wires and machines everywhere, but there she was…this perfect little nine pound gift, with fire red hair in a faux hawk style. Her hair and spunk would become the talk of the NICU, and the nurses would all have their turn at styling that badass little do. So, how could such a little wonder be dealt such a heavy hand? Receiving Olivia’s diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy haulted every emotion I had. The future her medical team painted was filled with struggle and sadness.
How could that be? How did they know? The thing was, no one really knows what the future holds. That was the moment we decided Olivia would get every opportunity to succeed; whatever that looked like.
Here we are, almost nine years later and the term Cerebral Palsy no longer carries with it, a punch to the gut affect on me. It also doesn’t look anything like the picture painted for her, almost nine years ago.
Olivia’s successes are not measured by standard milestones, they are celebrations of perseverance achieved by overcoming adversity. As Olivia found her way, she lead us through her journey, and taught us to look beyond the challenge and see the ability.
Olivia has developed skills in advocacy, teaching others about eye gaze centred communication; she has developed a love for physical activity through inclusive sport, she continues to build on her love for learning and has shared with me, that one day she would like to become a teacher. Her abilities far outweigh the challenges she faces daily.
This week, on October 6, we will be participating in a day that holds great importance to us, World CP Day. World CP Day is a global awareness day dedicated to research, education and awareness for Cerebral Palsy. You can learn more at http://www.worldcpday.org. If we are to change how we as society perceive disability, days like this are essential. What most of us seem to forget is, disability can affect us all, at any stage of our lives. Topics surrounding accessibility and inclusion should be conversations we are all interested in having and learning how we can achieve higher standards of each.
On October 6, I hope you all will consider joining us in wearing green, for Cerebral Palsy.