Laura Pettenuzzo is a guest blogger, a writer with cerebral palsy and a disability advocate living on Wurundjeri country. Passionate about accessibility, Laura writes Plain and Easy English content for various organisations, and her words have appeared in places like ABC, SBS and The Age.
This Friday 6 October is World Cerebral Palsy (CP) Day! The day was first celebrated in 2012 and aims to create a world where people with CP have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else. We’re a long way from the existence of that world, which makes World CP Day extremely significant.
A few days ago, I received an essential and heavy delivery. I’d noted that I had a disability and needed the item to be left outside the door of my apartment, not in the building foyer, as I’d be unable to carry it. Instead, the item was left approximately 50m away from the building entrance and I couldn’t leave it for my support worker to collect in a few days.
So, I took the elevator downstairs and tried to move it myself. There was no one around to ask for help. The first person who walked past stared as I huffed and puffed, pushing the box along one centimeter at a time. When he walked past me again, he shouted, “Oh, she’s still going!”
Already spasming and sweaty and sore, his comment filled me with shame, too.
This is a very minor example of the misunderstandings and challenges that people with CP experience on a daily basis. Such experiences will only decrease in a meaningful way with increased understanding and a shift in community attitudes towards CP.
My recent delivery debacle had a happy ending. I was lucky that a couple approached and were happy to carry the box up to my apartment for me. But the incident needn’t have happened at all.
Every day is CP day in my world, my every act a celebration of #CPLife, and I love that for one day each year, everyone else can honour it too.
I’ve been lucky to meet and know of so many excellent advocates with CP, whose work challenges the low expectations society can have of us, who refuse to make themselves fit into the confines of a world not designed for us. I hope that in some small way, I can do the same.
You can do your part to learn about CP and support those of us who live with it in lots of ways.