Young activist launches campaign ahead of World Cerebral Palsy Day

A young activist has started an online campaign to raise awareness of the physical challenges many disabled people face in modern society.

Gina Patel, from Wednesbury
Gina Patel, from Wednesbury

Gina Patel, from Wednesbury, is encouraging people to record themselves doing everyday activities with just one hand, in the run-up to World Cerebral Palsy Day.

People can then upload the videos to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CPEverydayLife, having experienced the difficulties of making a cup of tea or washing up with only one hand, something many able-bodied people will take for granted.

The 26-year-old is an experienced campaigner, and uploaded a video of her having a seizure for World Epilepsy Day earlier this year to raise awareness of the condition.

“The response was really amazing, I had a lot of support,” she said.

Miss Patel is determined to use her voice to speak up for herself and others, even going on stage to do a talk for TEDxWolverhampton called Disability Ambitions, in which she spoke about the need to be inclusive, the challenges of the pandemic for disabled people, and her own personal journey with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

But even in an environment where the campaigner was given a platform to advocate for disability rights, she found there were barriers.

She said: “I went in my wheelchair and found that the green room was not accessible. It was a bit of a strange time. I felt really anxious.

“Places are doing things better in terms of accessibility but it’s not 100 per cent there yet.

“Most places don’t have changing places, which many severely disabled people need. Why should it be such a barrier?”

The Wednesbury activist also finds train journeys very frustrating because of the nature of their access services.

“One thing I hate about trains is that I need to book so far in advance to get support.

“Sometimes trains get cancelled or help doesn’t turn up, and I’ve had to ask people to help me with their arms before.

“It just doesn’t seem fair.”

Gina is determined to use her voice to try and pave the way for change. She works for Chronically Brown, a charity dedicated to empowering South Asians with disabilities, as well as the Changing Our Lives charity, who work alongside disabled people to find solutions to social injustice and health inequality.

The activist said: “I want people to know that disability comes in all forms and shapes and sizes. We don’t all look the same.

"Many severely disabled people can’t speak out, so I try and speak on their behalf. It’s not fair because there are so many barriers.

"I know we’ve come so far but there’s so much more we can do.”

World Cerebral Palsy day is on October 6. People can get involved with Gina’s campaign by recording a video for the challenge and using the hashtag #CPEverydayLife.

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