Empowering the Disability Community Through Innovation and Ideas

Marc Irlandez, Director of Technology & Life Labs

Each year, millions of Americans donate to countless worthy causes. United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is lucky enough to be one of those causes, and we are so grateful for all of our supporters.

As UCP moves forward, the ways in which people support us is evolving—and one of the most interesting approaches is not through money, but through ideas. We want to know: what would make the life of an individual with a disability better, or easier, or more accessible? And how would it be done? Instead of UCP deciding our path forward, we are asking you, your neighbors, your friends, anyone and everyone to tell us your ideas, so we can incorporate them in our strategy, bring them to life, and share them with others.    

In 2012, UCP, our affiliates and global partners joined together to establish the first annual World Cerebral Palsy Day, an international day of awareness about cerebral palsy. As part of the day, we introduced the “Change my World in 1 Minute” contest. We asked people with disabilities from around the world to create a one minute video telling us what could be created, developed or modified, that would change their world and how. We received a staggering 500 submissions, and from this incredibly diverse pool, a specially appointed committee selected three finalists: a solar-powered wheelchair, a fold-up motorized wheelchair, and a documentary about people living with cerebral palsy in the 21st century.

The next phase of the “Change my World in 1 Minute” contest is the most exciting; we are challenging, the world’s inventors, craftsmen, makers and hackers, tinkerers and anyone who thinks they can bring one of these ideas to life, to compete for a share of a $25,000 prize. So if you or someone you know could build or create one of these ideas, let us know! We are so excited about this contest—not only will we get to see the world’s creativity at work, but the final products will make a significant difference in the lives of people living with disabilities.

Through our nearly 100 affiliates around the country, UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—and impact the lives of millions living with disabilities. Ideally, we want to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with a spectrum of disabilities by providing services and support to more than 176,000 children and adults everyday— one person at a time, one family at a time. For more than 60 years, we have continued to push for the social, legal and technological advances that will enable people with disabilities to live a life without limits.

For the estimated 57 million Americans and 650 million people around the world living with disabilities, World CP Day and the “Change my World in 1 Minute” contest is more than just a single day or awareness or a cash prize. It is a daily recognition of their lives—and the need to increase accessibility and independence for everyone.

It’s an innovative approach for a nonprofit: Asking for ideas instead of dollars. Then rewarding the people who can make those ideas a reality. 

We are empowering our community to challenge the world to solve specific problems. Not problems and solutions that we deem best. We want to help create solutions for issues that are important within our local communities and around the world. “Change my World in 1 Minute” is about collaboration and becoming part of the solution, moving from asking for money or help to empowering the community to take the lead and make the change.