Category Archives: Advocacy

Wheels of Fate: Cerebral Palsy on Stage

Mike Berkson and Handicap ThisThe time is 7:56 pm, four minutes till Showtime. Tim and I wait behind the curtain, anticipating the lights going down and the voice-over to begin. The house is full, we only know this because Tim anxiously peeks out and reports back to me, “Looks like Standing Room Only!” which is a term I never really liked, ha ha. I am calm; I have done this, what seems to me like a million times. Tim is not so calm, but it is his anxious energy that’s made this successful, yet crazy endeavor possible. As Tim prepares to wheel me onto the stage, my thoughts cannot help but drift back to the first time that me and my compatriot met.

I remember it like it was yesterday, Wednesday June 6, 2001. Once again I was performing. My able-bodied twin brother David and I were selected to host the 6th grade talent show. I was given the task of coming up with a name for the show. I settled on “Crouching Students, Hidden Talents”. Our job was to introduce everyone in the talent show and tell the audience what the act was. Little did I know that in the crowd that day was a twenty-something, soon to be my partner in crime, Tim Wambach. He proved to be energetic, forever smiling, and an all around perfect fit.

As the show got underway and my brother and I started, from my time to time I would hear an infectious laugh, one that when I hear it today can still make me crack a smile, even in the most darkest times. When the show concluded, the audience stood up and cheered. Tim came up to us and congratulated us on a job well done. This was my first encounter with Tim but it would certainly not be the last. Later that week, Tim arrived at my house which would become his home away from home. His indoctrination into the Berkson family was a game of NBA Live 2002 against David, as I watched. Our relationship was off to the races.

Tim worked with me throughout that summer and began his duties as my aide in school that fall. In the school environment, Tim saw that other students treated me differently because of the wheelchair. They automatically thought that because I had a physical disability, my mental facilities were impaired as well.

This misconception motivated Tim to do something that would forever change our lives for the better. In April 2005, Tim put his plan into motion. He decided that he would run from Orlando, FL all the way back to Chicago, IL for the purpose of raising awareness for the way I live and for those living with cerebral palsy and to inspire everyone to go after their own goals and dreams!

On July 31, 2005 Tim started this journey. One month later, I would join him for a final lap back in Chicago. Tim’s amazing accomplishment soon spread like wildfire among our community and beyond. We were soon asked to do numerous speaking engagements re-counting lessons learned from our relationship as well as Tim’s experiences during the run.

There was such an outpouring of positive feedback from our speeches that it sparked another monumental idea in our minds. In April of 2007, we decided that our story had all the makings of a theatrical production – we had 1) an entertaining spirit, 2) important message, 3) a willingness to put ourselves out there and 4) people already were enjoying the heck out of us!

Our show debuted in January of 2010. Since its inception, we have performed the show over 40 times and over 30,000 people have seen it live.

We have traveled all over the country from Arizona to Pennsylvania and we have had the opportunity to perform for a wide variety of people including students in middle schools, high school and college students, disability organizations, and corporations.

We are always working on our craft, refining and looking for ways to improve the audience experience. But the most rewarding feeling when performing the show is the knowledge that we give a voice to a group of individuals who often go unheard.

You can find us on the “Handicap This!” website. We are also very active on Social Media – look for us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.

Rollin’ into a town near you!

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Change Your World for World Cerebral Palsy Day

CP World Day IdeasDo you want to design or invent for a cause? Put your skills to great use and help one of the 2014 World CP Day ideas come to life! World Cerebral Palsy Day was created in 2012 to educate the world about cerebral palsy, as well as allow inventors and innovators from all walks of life to help change the lives of people with disabilities for the better.

Each event features a contest where people across the globe can submit their ideas to improve the quality of life of those with disabilities. These ideas are reviewed by two panels consisting of parents, medical experts and engineers. The panels then narrow down the ideas to a handful, which forms the theme for a competition to bring the ideas to life!

The 2014 World CP Day Contest

Three ideas have been selected for this year’s competition. Inventors, designers, innovators or anyone with a knack for building and helping others can try to create any of the following concepts:

  • A cup, mug or any type of drinkware designed for those with limited movement. The drinkware must be spill-proof, easily customizable and cheap to produce.
  • A custom-built, light weight power walker. The winning designs will be innovative, highly customizable and easy to afford/build. A stylish design is a plus.
  • A blueprint for establishing an organization/enterprise where people from all over the world can work together to produce assistive technologies for those with cerebral palsy. This can also include (or center around) specific services or therapies.

If you think you have what it takes to bring these ideas to life (or if you know someone who could make it happen), you could win the grand prize of a $50,000 prize pool! Remember that all entries need to be submitted no later than June 20, 2014. The winning entry will be decided and announced on July 21, 2014.

If you need a little inspiration, take a look at the winning entries from previous World CP Day competitions.

So what are you waiting for? Put on your thinking caps and spread some good to the cerebral palsy community. Who knows – your idea just might change the world for those with disabilities.

 

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Young Village Official Takes Care of Children with Cerebral Palsy

From www.womenofchina.cn

Young Village Official Takes Care of Children with Cerebral PalsyAynur Halik, a 24-year-old college graduate village official, has been caring for children with cerebral palsy in a house that she rented specifically for that purpose.

Halik’s youngest sister was born with the disease and she has been determined since young to help more people with the disease.

“I watched my mother take care of her. It is not easy,” Halik said. “She is 13 now, but still cannot speak or walk. My mother still looks after her like she is a baby.”

In 2012, Halik was hired as a college graduate village official at a village in Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. She discovered that there were over 200 people there living with cerebral palsy and decided to do something to improve their situation.

She contacted Wang Fang, the founder of the Angels’ Home Cerebral Palsy Rehabilitation Centre based in Nanning, capital city of southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Wang invited Halik to stay at her center for two months to learn about caring for children with cerebral palsy.

At the end of the two months, she rented a house near her work unit and moved her mother and sister there. At the same time, she invited three children with cerebral palsy nearby to stay there as well.

Within two months, one of the children, a 3-year-old boy who could not even move his head when he first arrived, was able to speak his first word. He called Halik ‘mother’.

“I love them so much and I feel so proud when they call me ‘mom’,” said Halik.

Read more.

 

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