I was watching TV a few days ago and I saw this ad. It is in Italian, so I'll translate the words for you. It says something like:
"When a baby is born with CP, everything stops for that family, every normal life, every future dream...Please send an SMS and donate to support these families..."
You know I have cerebral palsy and this ad made me think about the way disability is represented in the media and the message that comes across.
I wanted more opinions about it, so I asked a few of my CP buddies to watch the video and share their thoughts with me. Here is a short summary of what we have to say:
- Nothing stops for the family! Of course, a child with a disability is something they didn't expect and didn't wish for and it will change their lives but it won't stop anything. Any child changes the life of his family. Things can get harder when the baby has CP but it is not a tragedy!
- A kid with a disability can have a normal life, if society allows him and his family to enjoy it without having to face judgement and ignorance.
- Families with disabled children do have dreams, just like any other family! They might be just a little bit different from the ones they had before the diagnosis but they don't disappear.
- They keep showing a picture of the little girl where she doesn't smile or do anything, she is smiling in every single one of the other pictures. They clearly want people to pity her. They think that if people feel bad for children with CP they will donate more money.
Here's what they don't think about: what are people going to think about these children and their families?
They will think that they are unlucky and that their life sucks. They will think that they are worth less than other children, that they are broken and need to be fixed. Society will consider them unable to take care of themselves and become successful adults. They will be considered a burden. People will donate a couple euros and feel good because they helped those "poor children".
This message does not help families of kids with CP. You know what would help them a lot more than that money? A positive image of disability. An ad to show the world what they are able to do, to show their strength instead of their "weakness". A chance to prove their value.
They need help eliminating the prejudice: you are just making it stronger. You are making their life harder. Families of children with CP need your understanding more than they need your money. The change they want to see is in your mind, not in your wallet.