“Bringing out the authentic MarieW.O.W.C.P.” was my first blog post all about how I dealt with my cerebral palsy in life. Still, as you know, when having a disability, cerebral palsy, or something else, that disability is only a tiny part of who you are. I’m trying to write about how you are much more than wrapping or labels we are given in life. We may have more challenges than others, but we also have the same hopes, dreams, and passion, just like anyone else. People might not always see that we are more, but we are.
People with cerebral palsy are more than what you see. We are:
- Well educated
- Capable of all kinds of love
- Wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters, bothers, aunts, uncles, friends
- Hard workers
- Business owners
- Advocates, mentor
- We can enjoy life just like anyone else.
I’m a person with cerebral palsy, who has gone to college, graduated with an associate degree in human service, and a therapeutic recreation certificate specializing in gerontology. (The study of the elderly). During my first year of college, I worked part-time in a department store just like any college student. Still, instead of putting me out at the cash register, they put me in the dressing room with a woman that was 80. It felt like they just didn’t want me there because of my disability (this was back when the world was event less disability-friendly than they are now, shocker, right).
I hoped to work in a hospital or nursing home setting within the therapeutic recreation area. Every time I would apply for a job, I would look great on paper, but people couldn’t get past what they saw when I went in for the in-person interview. Before getting a paid job, I volunteered for a while, but I found that this generation had no idea how to accept people with disabilities. As much as this was disappearing for me because of the age group I was working with, I understand that people with disabilities were not accepted within the community when they were growing up, working, raising family, etc.
The last paid job I had was back at the college I went to; they were starting a new program, where they would take 5th-year high school ( who have a disability, who have the option to stay in high school until you are 21. The class was a life skills class where we would teach these students how to live in life. Skill such as
- Writing a resume
- How to find a job
- How to manage a bank account
- How to pay bills
- How to find a place to live
- How to find transpiration
- How to be safe in the community
- And more
When I heard they wanted me for this job, I was so excited, it was something I had always wanted to, and I knew I would be good at; they hired me to be the recreation person in the program. I would show them the social side of college. As much as I was good at this job, I find myself lost at this time in my life. As much as I wanted to be a mentor, I saw myself in the student’s eye. Life started to go hill because I wasn’t accepting myself, and in return, I lost something I was good at. I began to get in my head, and depression set in.
There was also a drawback to these jobs, and it was the fatigue that cerebral palsy causes us. People don’t let the cerebral palsy community prove that they can do the job like everyone else. They always have to prove themselves. At the same time, people are not given a chance to show how awesome we are as employees. The way this leaves us is feeling left out in life. The consequence is that by the workforce not accepting the cerebral palsy community, we start to feel like we are what people think we are; this is one reason we have a high depression rate in the cerebral palsy community.
As unique as the world is today, the world has a hard time embracing disability culture/community in society. I’m not sure why or if any of this will ever change. It’s heartbreaking to see how the world has come so far on so many issues today, but when it comes to an understanding, respecting, and accepting the disability culture/community, no matter how much the world changes and evolves. How many new cultures/communities come into this world? The disability culture/community will always be seen as less than in society’s eyes.