Tomorrow, October 7th, is World Cerebral Palsy Day, a day I refuse to celebrate. I should first clarify that I am not bitter about my disability; like any other physical characteristic, it is a part of me, however it is a part of me that I cannot control. The notion of celebrating a physical characteristic that I have no control over is ludicrous. I did not choose to have cerebral palsy just like I did not choose to have blonde hair or brown eyes. I do not celebrate “blonde hair day” or “brown eye day.” Furthermore, cerebral palsy is not an accomplishment, but merely an attribute; I did not aspire to be disabled nor did I train for it. Also, having a day dedicated to my disability separates me and all other individuals with cerebral palsy from the “rest” of society. For anyone who truly wants equality, this day is a barrier.
World Cerebral Palsy Day aims to congregate people with cerebral palsy, and it succeeds, but in the process, it segregates people with cerebral palsy from their able-bodied counterparts. It is like holding up a sign that reads “Look at us; we are different.” This is not the message that should be sent if the goal is to integrate disabled people into society.
Rather than dwelling on cerebral palsy as an integral part of their life, activists would breed more success if they showcased other characteristics and parts of their lives. For instance, being a musician, a teacher, or an athlete is a more intentional quality than being disabled. Musicians practice tirelessly to refine their playing skills, teachers often work beyond the requirements of their job to ensure that students succeed, and athletes train regularly to run faster, jump higher, or improve the dynamics of their team. These professions and traits communicate more about a person than the use of a wheelchair or a crutch ever could because they give insight into one’s passions while assistive technology only gives insight into one’s physical ability.
It is hypocritical for activists to ask not to be judged based upon their limitations if they insist on celebrating and flaunting them. If disabled people are “more than their disability,” this day is irrelevant. The solution to being wrongly judged on one’s ability is to stop defining oneself upon it, and start defining oneself by what is more substantial: choices and intentions.