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No matter what your stance is on following in your family’s footsteps, you have to admit it feels great when you can do right by them and make the people who raised you, proud. A 21-year-old cadet with Cerebral Palsy is now a third generation state trooper in Maryland.

Derek Harper, like most with cerebral palsy, had a pretty difficult start to his life and was diagnosed with the condition at the age of three. After dealing with years invasive surgeries, rehabilitation and therapy services, his doctors and parents finally saw progress.

Harper would routinely get injections on his legs as well as wearing braces on his legs to help him with his balance before he underwent major surgery at the age of nine. After his surgery, Harper spent about a month and a half in a full leg cast but that didn’t stop his energy and his will to continue being a happy kid.

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National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day: Everything You Should Know About The Condition

This Dancer With Cerebral Palsy Shows That Imposed Limitations Shouldn't Define Us


Harper had amazing energy and tenacity growing up but wouldn’t have been able to do have of what he’s accomplished without the assistance of his dedicated parents. David and Sandy Harper were determined to provide their son with a conventional life as possible so they nurtured his curiosity and allowed him to play sports just like his peers.

Growing up, Harper played soccer, T-ball, and was even able to run cross-country thanks to the help of his leg braces. Sports aside, some of his other extracurriculars included Cub Scouts and participated in Civil Air Patrol.

He then began showing an interest in law enforcement and decided to attend a boot camp run by the military and police officers in Pennsylvania — which had a focus on law enforcement. Once he graduated high school, Harper was eligible to take a fitness test, that he passed, and soon after was hired as a cadet.

After being hired as a cadet and proving he was just as strong and capable as anyone else, Harper went on to enroll in an academic program that would allow for him to obtain his associate's degree. During the emotive graduation ceremony, Harper’s dad pinned his gold badge onto his lapel and was proud to say his son was now a third-generation police officer.

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March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month here in the United States and today, March 25, is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. This day began being observed back in 2005 and was created thanks to the efforts of a group called Reaching For The Stars — an education and advocacy group created by parents of children who have the condition.


This group took it upon themselves to create awareness and bring attention about this condition that had so little research behind it, despite the fact that Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common motor disabilities in children. The group is led by Cynthia Frisina, the VP of partnerships at the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.


Frisina and her team reached out to longtime Georgia Senator, Johnny Isakson, to persuade Isakson and his staff to start the process of establishing March 25 as National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. They also decided to make green the official color of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day as people would still have St. Patrick’s Day merch on hand after the Irish holiday.


The choice of green also reflects youthfulness and growth, that is usually associated with the condition as those who live with CP receive treatment that helps them grow and they are usually diagnosed at a young age. The holiday has grown exponentially since its inception and now, many landmarks across the United States are lit up, or painted, green to commemorate the occasion.

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Cerebral Palsy is a movement disorder that appears early in a child’s life and affects that child’s body movements and muscular coordination. CP is caused by either the abnormal development of a child in the womb — like the cerebral motor cortex not developing normally during fetal growth. Damage to parts of the brain that control movement can also result in CP. This damage usually occurs before, during, or after a baby is born. Either way, the damage is typically permanent.


CP is diagnosed early in childhood after parents or caregivers see babies under the age of six months lagging in their milestones. Things like the baby feeling stiff, floppy, and the baby’s head lagging when you pick them up can all be indicators of CP in babies under six months. For children over six months, they may not be able to roll over correctly, bring their hands together, have difficulty bringing their hand to their mouths, and may reach out with only one hand while the other hand is in a constant fist.


Over the age of 10 months, indicators of cerebral palsy can be seen while crawling in a lopsided manner and has difficulty standing while holding onto something.


The different forms of CP are determined by the extent of the injury, the kind of injury, and the location of said injury. The three-movement specifications associated with CP are spastic, which is linked to stiff muscles, athetoid, which is when the person lacks control of the movement in their arms, legs, and face. And finally, there is ataxic CP which is the least common form of the condition only affecting five to ten percent of the population with the condition. Ataxic CP is caused due to the damage in the cerebellum of the brain and is typically characterized by poorly coordinated movements and the inability to walk correctly, if they’re able to walk at all.


An important detail to consider during National CP Month is the fact that CP isn’t a disease and it isn’t contagious. The life expectancy of those with the condition is fairly similar to the life expectancy of anyone else. And with the right care, love, and attention, a child with CP can grow up to live their lives just like anyone else.


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Photo Courtesy Of Go Green For CP Facebook Page

March 25 is Cerebral Palsy Awareness day — a day to shine a light on what Cerebral Palsy is, who it affects and what it means to have the condition. To commemorate the occasion, all 50 states are planning to go green on National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day.

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is one of the most common causes of physical disability in children and it affects these kids in varying degrees. Some might have better muscle tone, mobility and speech ability, while others fall behind in those areas.

CP affects about one and a half to four out of 1,000 live births, globally. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in 323 children have been identified as having the condition in the United States alone. With these large numbers attached to the condition, you’d think CP would get more media attention and representation across media as a whole. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case at all.

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Working to change the narrative and seeking more visibility is Nicole Luongo — an advocate for CP awareness and a person living with the condition herself. Luongo’s goal in 2019 was to get all 50 states in the US onboard with participating in CP awareness either for National CP Awareness Day on March 25 or on October 6 which is World Cerebral Palsy Day.

Within the first few days of 2019, Luongo was able to get 30 states on board with participating in the Go Green for CP campaign. In a statement to WorldCPDay.org, she shares “I wanted to do my part to change [the lack of visibility]. The fact that so many places around the United States, and in two other countries, will participate in my Go Green for CP in 2019 campaign is a game-changer for CP awareness.”

The additional two countries planning on participating in Go Green for CP are Australia and Canada. Both lighting up the Sydney Town Hall and the High Level Bridge in green, respectively. For a full list of the participating states and which day and monument they are planning to light up, click here.

Below are the cities and monuments that we be participating in Florida.



Don’t forget to wear to Go Green for CP on March 25!

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Photo Courtesy Of Heidi Latsky Dance Company Instagram

Those who are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP) at a young age know just how disheartening it is to be told you won’t be able to do a host of things. Jerron Herman is a dancer with Cerebral Palsy that proves our imposed limitations shouldn’t define us.


Early in his life, Herman learned that he had a condition called CP that would make his existence a bit more challenging than that of his peers. He was told by doctors and specialists that he wouldn’t be able to live a normal life and would probably have a hard time clothing himself, feeding himself and that he’d need assistance doing almost everything in his daily life because of his Hemiplegia CP.


Hemiplegia CP is characterized by the paralysis of one side of the body due to damage on a particular hemisphere of the brain which controls muscle movements. The hemiplegia that causes damage on one side of the brain usually affects the opposite side of the affected person’s body. This damage, like with most kinds of cerebral palsy, occurs before, during, or after a child is born.

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Herman didn’t take the news of his CP as a life sentence but instead, his family sought out the expertise of medical professionals and clinicians that would help improve his way of life, and as he grew older, saw dance as the creative outlet he’s been missing. He tells Dance Magazine that he’s “almost always in deep conversations with [a medical] practitioner,” which helps him keep his body in tip top shape to be able to continue pursuing his passion for dance.


A lot of the practices that he uses to warm up and get his body ready for dancing are one-legged, so he can better strengthen the side he needs working on. Everything he’s doing seems to be working as Herman has been dancing professionally for about six years. He dances for a company called Heidi Latsky Dance which is a dance company that integrates people with disabilities.


The Heidi Latsky Dance began catering to the disability community shortly after working with bilateral amputee Lisa Bufano — who was a talented performance artist. That was when she began fully developing her dance company’s vision and started working with the disability community.


“I’ve always been an advocate for those to pursue the antithesis of the thing that is their limitation,” said Herman in a video for Great Big Story. He says he dances because he loves being able to use his body as a tool to create art when initially, no one thought he’d be able to do many things.


Through dancing, Herman was able to shed many of the stereotypes associated with CP and truly proves that many of our limitations don’t really exist.


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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has become one of the most helpful tools for helping treat and train children with behavioral issues, especially as it relates to autism. The Mississippi Autism Board along with the help of the Behavior Analysis Association of Mississippi have announced they’ll be offering classes to help teachers become Registered Behavior Technicians.

Under the guidance of a behavioral therapist, children and their parents can learn how behaviors work, how behavior is affected by the child’s environment, and how learning takes place. With one in 59 children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), training teachers on how to better manage children with ASD was a long time coming.

These courses will help Mississippi teachers bring children with ASD and other developmental disorders, out of their shells. This is the first time a program of this nature exists in the state and will hopefully influence other states to follow suit. In recent months, there have been too many horror stories about teachers abusing special needs children and this lack of patience clearly stems from a lack of education.

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The teachers who decide to participate in this course will become Registered Behavioral Technicians (RBTs) who will become better-informed on how to handle their special needs children. The Hosemann Family Foundation in Mississippi will be offering 20 scholarships to educators in the state.

The Hosemann family has a grandchild with autism and that’s why they started the foundation. They saw how unqualified or underqualified many educators were to teach children with ASD and decided to do something about it.

Their goal with this new foundation is to educate 40 teachers each year and send them to institutions all around their state. The Hosemann’s efforts are already showing results because Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi are both launching Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s programs.

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