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Breaking Barriers & Shaping Perceptions – World Cerebral Palsy Day

background image of joseph bird using the FES machine, whilst physio Bex tracks his progress on the tablet. Text in a white box that reads: breaking barriers and shaping perceptions - world cerebral palsy day. Vim health aquamarine banner runs along the bottom of the image with logo and tagline: vim health, robot-assisted therapies

According to registered charity Cerebral Palsy Sport, approximately 160,000 people in the UK live with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Whilst this condition affects many people, the symptoms and severity of Cerebral Palsy can vary widely from person to person. With that in mind, Vim Health took this opportunity to speak to members of the CP community and share the messages they want heard on World Cerebral Palsy Day (WCPD). The following article features responses from four people living with Cerebral Palsy and the parents of someone living with CP.

Marissa Tasker

I am 24 years old, living in Brighton and Hove. I study international travel and tourism management at the University of Brighton. My passion is to travel and make travel accessible for all; we want to travel the world and live life to the best of our abilities too! A typical day for me is getting up and ready for university, volunteering, going to the gym or meeting up with friends. I don’t like being inside or sitting around with no structure to my day. I may have my disability, but I do not let it stop me from living my life.

My message for World CP Day is don’t let Cerebral Palsy stop you from living your life. This world isn’t always designed for us, but that’s why we are here to break down the barriers and show the world that we are there, and we can do amazing things! 

Anna Grace Taylor 

I live in West Sussex with my cat Rumi. I am an Angel Therapist, Spiritual Mentor and Author who loves music, singing, sunshine and chatting! In fact, I just launched my podcast, Love and a Cup of Tea, where I’ll talk to some amazing guests about the things they love, the heart-opening and heart-breaking moments that have shaped who they are, and what love really means to them. I’m excited about it!

One piece of advice that’s stuck with me, especially because there can be so much ‘noise’ online, is ‘Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice.’ In other words, if they don’t know me, I try not to worry too much about their opinion. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but I’ve always tried my best to stay true to myself and remember that I’ll never please everyone when I am.

The message I’d like to share for WCPD is, first of all, to get to know me and anyone with a disability without asking, ‘What’s wrong?’. Nothing is wrong with me. I have CP, and yes, while that can be challenging sometimes, often the hardest part is people’s perceptions. I’ve realised how strong my inner ableism is, and is it any wonder when people still think it’s OK to ask me such questions? Sometimes people will say, ‘Oh, you don’t look like you have that!’ or ‘Oh I’m so sorry,’ and both responses are equally frustrating. Cerebral Palsy looks like me. It can look like so many people. Some disabilities are just more visible than others.

Being disabled isn’t tragic, nor should I be seen as super inspiring for simply living my life. If someone is inspired by the person I am or something I do that they’d love to do, too, then great. But instead of pity or seeing me as a hero, I’d rather they support me by seeing me as an equal and use their voice to make public places more accessible. I want to be free to go wherever I choose without thinking about whether it’s manageable. I don’t think that’s too much to ask in 2023.

Sarah Zachariades

I’m 46 and have been a single mum for over 16 years due to my husband’s passing. I live in Billingshurst, West Sussex, with my 3 children & multiple dogs & cats. I work for a modelling and talent agency part-time. I enjoy the quieter, simpler things in life, dinning out, movies, music and books, love Audible! I appreciate beautiful places and beautiful people. It’s quality over quantity for me. The most valuable piece of advice given to me was simple but effective: ‘You Can Do it’. Growing up, things were not easy, and they weren’t made easy either. If I needed to do something or wanted something, it wasn’t done for me.

My message for World Cerebral Palsy Day is that people with CP are just people with extra challenges. Challenges make us stronger & more resourceful. Often, support stops when a person leaves special education, but having continued access to resources such as annual check-ups and physiotherapy will enable people with CP to maintain their abilities and continue to live as independently as possible.

Joseph Bird

My name is Joseph, and I’m from Birmingham. I have cerebral Palsy, and the type of Cerebral Palsy I have is called spastic diplegia. It affects mainly the lower extremities of my body, my legs, but also the left side of my body, like my face and left arm. It was caused by a brain haemorrhage at birth. I was born 12 weeks premature and weighed 2lbs; I had a lung collapse, heart failure and a brain haemorrhage. I am very lucky to be here and to have the abilities that I do. Even though it’s taken a lot of hard work through physiotherapy and weight training.

My philosophy is that you can be as independent as possible. So, in my day-to-day life, I always try to find ways to be as independent, happy and strong as I can.

For World CP Day I’d like to share that Cerebral Palsy isn’t something you should be down about; it’s something you should be positive about. If you can, use it to figure out your capabilities and try to push through your comfort zone. Try and improve to have a better lifestyle and mindset. Just because you’ve been put in a situation doesn’t mean you can’t change it. There is always room for improvement, with positive thoughts and a positive mindset.

Andrew Caspar

Our Son’s name is Andrew and he is 46 years old. He lives at a Care Home run by Leonard Cheshire organisation and has been there for nearly 25 years. We live nearby and see him often and he comes home regularly. He has some great carers at the home and there is a lot to do. We have regular outings and visits and people come into the home with animals and music and activities.

Unfortunately, Andrew had a fall last year and now he visit’s Vim Health for some intensive Physiotherapy twice a week. He is getting stronger and feeling better and really enjoy the physical workout. He also does some cycling and standing at the Care Home. Andrew loves going on holiday, we take him away to adapted properties here in the UK and pre Covid we went abroad quite often but that has been more difficult since his accident.

On World Cerebral Palsy Day we would like to ask people to visit their local Care Home to chat to people and join in the activities. Andrew really enjoy visitors and new faces are very welcome.”

For World Cerebral Palsy Day, the global community comes together to raise awareness, break down barriers and reshape limiting perceptions that society can sometimes place upon them. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share a message with us today, reminding us how diverse we are as humans and the importance of celebrating those differences.

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