After a successful surgical procedure earlier this year, a 4-year-old Michigan girl with cerebral palsy took her first steps, and her proud mother recorded every "step" of the …
The United Cerebral Palsy Association’s (UCP) “Life Without Limits” (LWL) initiative is a powerful program that helps people with cerebral palsy live out their dreams while giving a platform to fight back against the stigma associated with the disorder, which can limit their ability to live their lives as successfully as possible.
The idea of LWL came about in 2004 after a number people realized that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) wasn’t proving to be as effective as once thought. Numerous advocates realized that despite strong efforts by ADA, people with cerebral palsy were still not being fully integrated into society as they should, which sparked the UCP to take action.
The first part of LWL consisted of delivering DVDs to organizations and volunteers across the country so that they could conduct focus groups within their communities. The focus groups helped to determine the main obstacles people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities continued to face, and how to create opportunities for them.
In 2007, the Life Without Limits National Visioning Sessions was presented at the UCP Annual Conference in Orlando, where participants of the conference were given the chance to discuss future obstacles that could have an impact on children with cerebral palsy, including any changes over the next decade and the effect it would have on the younger generation. It was during the conference that a number of key points were discussed, that would become the key elements of LWL, including:
Navigating the World Across Generations
Community Not Government
LWL has grown substantially since its creation. It continues to help people with cerebral palsy with a number of initiatives, including early childhood intervention (known as My Child Without Limits), care giving, medical care clinics, technology and innovation “Life Labs,” and and LWL institute, which creates programs and events.
One event is the LWL Race Day, which takes place during various months throughout the year, according to each state. For instance, in Alabama, the next LWL Race Day takes place on October 29, 2016. In Pennsylvania, this year’s race took place on April 28. The event combines a 1/2 marathon & 5K “Fun Run” to help raise money for each community while promoting education and awareness. Money raised during LWL race day help to provides the means for:
-Quality, specialized education
-Home modifications for needy families, such as installing ramps and other accommodations
-Increasing access to sports, arts, music, and other activities for children with cerebral palsy
-Additional support and assistance that may be needed for families with special needs children
The Future of LWL
LWL will continue to focus on key interests and issues in the future that it currently focuses on today, with a specialized focus on its Life Labs, Child Without Limits, and future caregiving. LWL will also continue to push for the advancement of “the civil rights movement for people with a spectrum of disabilities.”
According to UCP, 20% of the U.S. population live with disabilities, and 2/3 of the disabled adults are unemployed, yet express they want a job. LWL will continue to focus on not only children with disabilities, but adults as well.
To learn more about LWL, including how to donate or how you get involved with the cause within your own community, visit the official UCP site, or contact your local UCP branch.
Watch below for information regarding Birmingham, Alabama’s UCP LWL Clinic: