CP does not define me; it is a part of me! By Jacob April

rp_Jacob-April-170x300.pngFor those of you who don’t know what CP is, it stands for cerebral palsy.  But beyond the label, CP is a physical difference that I was born with. I weighed a mere one pound and 13 ounces, and was born 3 months premature. I was so small that my parents did not even get a chance to hold me when I was born. Doctors thought I would need a walker to walk, and would have to wear a helmet in case I fell to avoid injury to my head. I first found out about all the obstacles I would have to face at the age of two. My parents had to choose whether they were going to let my disability define me, or allow me to tackle it head on!

I cannot hide the fact that I have CP; therefore, I have to flaunt about it and that sometimes can be difficult. The reason I have trouble flaunting about my difference is because of how I believe people perceive me. Unlike many other differences, I understand that when I walk into a room, my difference is noticeable. Sometimes people have notions that they should feel bad for me, but I do not want them to feel that way.  I know I am not the only one who feels like this. I also wonder why people automatically determine that they need to feel sorry for me. For example, I’ve noticed all my life that other types of differences (skin color, religion, etc.) don’t create a reaction of pity, so why do they feel bad for someone who happens to walk with a limp? To me, I am who I am and so are they.  I just wish we lived in a world where there was more respect for one another’s differences rather than automatic judgment.

Although I am generally independent, sometimes my CP makes it difficult for me to do tasks such as buttoning my shirt and pants. It can often be very frustrating when I need assistance donning a shirt, and I am embarrassed that I need help with this task. These feelings usually occur when I am going to a celebration or event that requires formal attire. A specific day that I was particularly frustrated was when I had to have my mothers help me button a shirt because I took the day off from school to go to visit colleges and needed to be dressed nicely in order to create nice representation for myself. That day, I had completely dressed myself independently with the exception of my button down shirt, and that’s when it hit me the hardest– the light bulb in my head went off.  If I wanted to go to an occasion that required this kind of shirt, I would need help. The thought of that happening  to me in college was only something I could  dream of avoiding. That is when I started my vigorous search for a solution.When I heard about the new adaptive clothing line being made by Tommy Hilfiger and Runway of Dreams utilizing MagnaReady magnets, I felt a combination of being very excited but also cautiously optimistic about their product. I was curious if their designs would actually work for me. The article of clothing I first purchased was a button down shirt that was magnetized so people with dexterity issues like myself can independently dress ourselves. The shirt I ordered was very helpful because I didn’t have to worry about other people helping me button my shirt. I was finally able to wear a button down shirt without assistance after having to rely on somebody for assistance for nineteen years! After experiencing it first hand, I think it goes without saying how I felt about the product. Ultimately I was beyond elated when I was first able to independently and fully dress myself.

jacob-april-whThanks to Runway of Dreams and MagnaReady, I no longer need to struggle like I did before and can dress myself independently due to their fabulous clothing! I think I speak on behalf of myself and the differently-abled community when I say I can’t thank them enough for creating this clothing line!  While I cannot stop people from making assumptions about me and my life, I am so grateful to have been given the gift of living my life even more independently than I was before. These days I hope people notice the clothes I am wearing instead of recognizing my difference. Because after all, I’m just living my life perhaps looking different, but always feeling like myself.


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