Throughout March Handicap This Productions commemorates Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month by welcoming different guest bloggers with CP. Our first post comes from Reaching for the Stars: A Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy’s student ambassador Blake Showers.
In my post here for Handicap This I wish to discuss empowerment in the lives of young people with cerebral palsy. I believe it is extremely important to empower individuals with CP, but especially during young adulthood because young adults have to adapt and overcome certain stigmas. Many of us with CP have been told “You can’t do it.” Instead of sitting back defeated, muster the strength to accomplish the task at hand. Become empowered.
By definition (as given by University of British Columbia) “empowerment” is a life affirming and broad term that means “(1) to give power or authority to; authorize. (2) to enable or permit.” When I speak of empowerment, I do not speak of a person doing a task for me, but assistance in accomplishing the task.
People, disabled or not, have the ability to empower others. Those with cerebral palsy especially can empower others with handicaps to use mind over matter and conquer what most consider a “straightforward” task.
Personally I find empowerment through cooperative encouragement. That is searching for people willing to help one feel empowered by allowing him or her to freely express oneself without criticism. It is the ability and the will to grant assistance. Perhaps, this comes from helping someone like me technical climb. A task my critics dismissed when I first showed interest in rock wall and mountain climbing.
But this blog post is not about the critics in the world. It is about the will of empowerment and the attitude to go get it, not about what you cannot get. We as individuals with cerebral palsy may experience cooperative empowerment internally through our community, like in the way Mike Berkson empowers via the Handicap This stage show.
Empowering each other is important too. We cannot rely on the rest of society to empower us because we are not fully ingrained in society. To the outside world it is natural to antagonize over how we perform duties “differently”. Â We within the cerebral palsy community however don’t get caught up in that stigma and therefore can empower each other, creating an empowerment movement.
Go get it!
Cerebral Palsy Kids Coalition Ambassador, (RFTS, Inc.)
More About Blake:
Blake Showers is an aspiring law student who has intentions of majoring in disability law. He will intern with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) in June to explore the United States government. In his free time, he likes to hike and mentor youth.