Join UCP in Helping to Spread Awareness for World CP Day on October 7!

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is one of the most complex and often misunderstood neurological disabilities across the world. CP affects each individual differently, with symptoms ranging in severity, from weakness in the limbs to complete lack of motor function. CP can come in many forms: Spastic (the most common), Ataxic, Syskinetic, or even a combination of types. Common signs of CP can include: a “floppy” appearance (specifically in the limbs), a delay in reaching milestones (like crawling or walking), or other delays.WCPD_CP_Diagnosis_Treatment_USA 


Cultural beliefs are different around the world and for some, having a disability carries a cultural and social stigma. This can often lead to isolation of the individual with CP or shame on the mother.The stigma can have many ripple effects for the family of the person with CP or any other disability. One of the goals of World CP Day is to help make the public aware of CP and to help to end the misconceptions that surround it.

CP is a lifelong disability and there is no cure. Treatment for cerebral palsy can come in a range of different methods. If there are no steps taken to treat it, CP may cause the joints to worsen over time. Treatments can include both physical and occupational therapies.

UCP is proud to be apart of World CP Day on October 7 and the movement to help better understand Cerebral Palsy and the 17 million people worldwide who have it.

World CP “Invent It” Competition Brings Together Designers to Make a “Sponge House!”

“World Cerebral Palsy Day (World CP Day)” is a worldwide project with the goal to change the world for people living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities and their families.  World CP Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday in October, yet events go on year round. This year, World CP Day aims to make a difference in the local communities of those with CP. Each year the initiative introduces different challenges. From 2012-2014, World CP Day challenged engineers and designers to invent a product that would benefit people with CP.

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This past year, the challenge was to create a ‘Sponge House’ that went beyond only being wheelchair accessible. The Sponge House needed to accommodate to a large group of people with CP by having open spaces, soft floors, rounded edges and low surfaces. The idea of the Sponge House came from 6-year-old Sally Garster who lives in England and has CP and wanted a house made from soft materials that would protect her when she falls.

Winners of the 2015 Sponge House challenge are people from all across the globe. The number one winning team is a group from Canada who created A.B.L.E (Access a Better Living Environment). This team came up with a house that includes a lot of open spaces, mobility equipment, soft surfaces, and rounded corners. The next runner up was a product called The Bubble House created by two women in Australia. This house consisted of round surfaces with furniture that is mounded into the ground to prevent slipping and falling. This house also included a soft and sponge-like floor that is soft when impacted by a fall.

Next up was a project called Super Special Living created in New York! Inspired by their son, Garner Oh and his wife designed a house that has gentle curved bars that little hands can easily grasp along with shelves that encourage reaching and pulling to stand (once they have toys on them, of course). With soft padding on the floor and walls and no sharp edges to bump into, Super Special Living is a house that will not hurt you.

CP Wiki Write-athon Offers Cash Prizes for Content

The World CP Initiative, in which United Cerebral Palsy plays an active role, has just launched a Wiki that is devoted exclusively to cerebral palsy. Throughout June and July, UCP and the other organizations which make up the World CP Initiative, will be promoting a CP Wiki Write-athon to encourage people to post content on the Wiki.

About the Wiki

For those of you who are not familiar, the Wiki is an online knowledge base on cerebral palsy and related topics for everyone: people with disabilities, parents, caretakers and professionals in the medical and disability fields. It’s just getting started, so we your help to create and improve content and to spread the word.CPWikiWriteAthon

Join the Competition

The CP Wiki Write-athon competition runs throughout June and July. There are 30 x $500 prizes for the best and most content added – including the best organization page and the best country page.

Spread the Word

Anyone can write about CP and take part in the Write-athon. You can write about services, people, sports, technology, travel, health, employment, education, films, books… any CP-related topic.

Please spread the word:

1.  Share this blog post with your family and friends

2.  Print out and post this write-athon poster at your school, workplace, community center, library or other public places you visit

3. Add this news item to your personal blog or website if you have one

4. Replace your Facebook cover pic with the World CPWikicover for June and July

5. Use the simple template on the wikihome page to create a page about CP in the United States

6. ‘Like’ the World CP Day Facebookpage and share the Wiki updates

Jump In and Add Content! 

As you’re browsing the wiki, remember that it’s fine to add or edit wherever you want. Anything you change or do will show up on the wiki for others to pick up and expand on – and as the site grows you’ll see that happening more and more! In the wiki world we say “Be bold!” because anything you do is valuable. Even if you ‘break’ something, a fix is always just a few clicks away – and somebody will come around to fixing it sooner rather than later. So don’t be afraid to give it a try.


UCP at the “Margarita, With A Straw” NYC Screening!

On May 4, 2015, members of the staff at UCP National were invited to the New York City screening of the film “Margarita, With A Straw” at the Paris Theatre as part of the New York Indian Film Festival. The film centers around a young woman named Lila, a college student with Cerebral Palsy who is studying music. The film explores her desire to be loved and accepted for who she really is, while trying to navigate the world in her power chair. In the beginning of the movie, you see Lila in the mists of trying to win the affection of her band’s lead singer, Nima. After Nima rejects her advances, Lila learns that she has been admitted into New York University.


UCP and CPIRF staff with lead actress, Kalki Koechlin (Lila).

Lila suddenly goes from her small college in New Delhi to the big streets of NYC. On her first week in the city, Lila happens upon a protest. During the protest, police begin to tear gas the crowd; this is where Lila meets Khanum. Lila and Khanum quickly begin a whirl-wind romance and are soon living together. Lila begins to come to grips with her sexuality, knowing that she will soon have to come out to her closest family member and her caretaker: her mother. Through a series of revelations, Lila’s family and relationship are turned upside down. Lila soon learns that she doesn’t need to seek validation from others, but in herself.

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UCP with the film’s director, Shonali Bose.

After the movie, the film’s director, Shonali Bose, and its stars Kalki Koechlin (Lila) and Sayani Gupta (Khanum) talked about how they got into character and prepared for their roles. UCP had the opportunity to meet both Koechlin and Bose, take photos and discuss their thoughts and feelings on the film. For some of the staff at UCP National, three of which were born with Cerebral Palsy, this film was the first time they had really seen a portrayal that echoed parts of their own experiences on screen.

What sets “Margarita, With A Straw” apart from other films about Cerebral Palsy or disability, is the way you see Lila: She is not an underdog or a source of inspiration. She is just living her life, while trying to find her place in the world. As a viewer with or without a disability, you can identify with parts of Lila’s journey. This film gives viewers a look into the struggles that some face with a disability, because in the end, we all want to be loved and accepted for who we are.

Emily Gillis’ Journey to a Law Degree

Emily Gillis is set to graduate for Suffolk University Law School in Boston this coming Saturday. Emily’s law school journey has been different from most of her peers, her father, Joseph Gillis Jr., has taken her to every single class throughout her three years as a law student. Gillis was born with spastic-quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and uses a power chair to get around.

Joseph Gillis would drive his daughter to her stop on MBTA’s Red Line everyday, often waiting patiently for hours between Emily’s classes, pick her up from the stop and drive them back to the apartment they shared together in Whitman, Massachusetts. He would often accompany Emily to her classes, helping to set up and break down her computer and would wait for her between classes, making sure she had everything she needed. When Emily was denied an aide for both school and at home, her father jumped at the chance to help his daughter succeed, already knowing how to navigate Boston, it was a perfect fit. “There are no words to describe what my dad has done for me.”, Emily says.

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Emily Gillis and her father, Joseph Gillis, Jr.


This incredible moment is about her hard work, her dedication and the support of her dad. When asked why he went to such great lengths, Joseph Gillis replied: “I think every parent would have done the same thing if they had the chance- “I’m just glad I had the opportunity to do so.” Emily graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Criminology in 2010; she has known she wanted to become a lawyer since her freshman year of high school. Those at Suffolk Law took notice of her father’s unwavering support, Associate Dean of students, Ann McGonigle Santos said “…He has given Emily a gift to thrive and lay the foundation for her to become an attorney in whatever field she pursues.” On Saturday, she will have a full cheering section, including her mother, Mary, who’s been battling cancer for the last few years and her younger sister, Kimberly.

For both Emily and Joseph, this is the end to what Emily calls a “bittersweet” journey and a future full of great experiences that await her.


From all of us here at UCP: Congratulations, Emily! And best of luck with whatever path you choose to follow!

Special Thank you to Tony Ferullo from Suffolk University’s Office of Public Affairs, CBS Boston and the Boston Globe for helping to contribute to this blog post.

Twin Brothers Step Up for UCP’s Steptember Challenge

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) kicks off its annual Steptember Challenge registration period today with the announcement that Martin and Adrian Konstantinov will be our official Steptember Ambassadors in 2015. Following in the footsteps of past ambassadors such as Team Hoyt, the 15-year-old twin brothers are committed to raising awareness and funds to help people with disabilities and their families through United Cerebral Palsy.

Steptember is a four-week event designed to generate support for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Beginning on September 2, teams from around the world will challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps a day and fundraise along the way until September 29, 2015. Nearly any activity, including biking, physical therapy and yoga, can be converted into steps on the Steptember website.

In 2012, the Konstantinov brothers co-founded the successful Lake Scary 5K in their hometown of Lake Mary, FL to benefit one of UCP’s local affiliate organizations on behalf of a friend with cerebral palsy. Now that their family has relocated to Washington, D.C., the brothers plan to put their energy and enthusiasm into helping UCP’s national efforts to rally teams participating in this year’s Steptember event. Last year, over 10,000 people participated in the challenge and raised more than $3 million globally through more than 170 organizations involved in the effort.

Being Honored in 2013

“We want to continue to spread awareness about cerebral palsy and contribute to this cause that we already feel closely attached to,” said the Konstantinovs.

The twins will be working with their Director of School Activities at the Maret School in DC to engage fellow students in the Steptember Challenge and will be on hand to help UCP promote the event. Not only do the funds raised during September directly benefit people with disabilities served by 80 UCP affiliates in the US and beyond, the steps taken directly benefit the participants as well in leading a more active lifestyle.

“We are beyond impressed with the efforts of these young men’” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of UCP. “They are an excellent example of the idea that a world of good can come from the intention to make the world a better place for just one person. Through their desire to help their schoolmate, they are benefiting thousands on people with disabilities.”

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For more about Steptember, please visit

Videos Show That #CerebralPalsyCAN During Awareness Month

March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Throughout the month, United Cerebral Palsy will be encouraging people with cerebral palsy to share the many things they enjoy and can do using the hashtag #CerebralPalsyCan on social media. On March 25, National CP Awareness Day, UCP and our partners in this campaign (listed below) will will feature submitted videos on our social media channels and websites.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad diagnostic term used to describe a problem with movement and posture, due to damage or abnormalities in the brain that makes certain activities difficult. It is the most common motor disorder and the second-most common disability found in children. UCP aims to demonstrate through short, light-hearted videos that people with cerebral palsy have a range of interests and abilities, and in that respect are no different than anyone else. Find out more about the campaign and watch the video on My Life Without Limits, UCP’s new online resource and community for individuals with a range of disabilities at

#CerebralPalsyCan Campaign Partners

United Cerebral Palsy:
My Life Without Limits:
Love That Max: A Special Needs Blog:
The Cerebral Palsy Swagger:
Ms. Wheelchair Michigan:

Be Part of the Great Bike Giveaway

Great Bike Giveaway BannerDo you remember the freedom you felt, the confidence you gained, the pride you had when you received your first bike? UCP is proud to partner with the Great Bike Giveaway to help give children with disabilities the same feeling you had when that shiny new bike arrived at your home.

For the forth consecutive year Friendship Circle is holding the Great Bike Giveaway, a national contest giving away adaptive bikes to children with special needs. They are partnering with Freedom Concepts, Rifton, Buddy Bike, Ambucs, Triaid,Flaghouse, Mobo Cruisers Strae Sports, the Duet and Strider Bikes to give away adaptive bikes to children and young adults with special needs.

Why The Great Bike Giveaway?

Many children with special needs miss out on the childhood joy of bike riding because their physical or cognitive limitations make riding a bicycle near impossible. The Great Bike Giveaway will give children and young adults with special needs the chance to win an adaptive bike and have the feeling of pride, freedom and confidence that bike riding brings.

How The Contest Works

Adaptive bikes are tailored to a child’s needs. To meet the needs of the recipients in this contest, a separate contest is held for each bike type. The contest starts with two bikes of each type and money is raised to add more bikes as the contest progresses. Last year the Great Bike Giveaway ran eight different contests and gave away a total of 108 bikes! This year Friendship Circle hopes to give away 300 bikes to individuals with special needs.

Each bike page has a space where users can enter the contest. Submit a picture of your child with special needs along with a short explanation of why your child needs an adaptive bike.

From the winner of a Parent:  Judd, received his Rifton tricycle that he won through your bike giveaway. He loves it so much. His first time out with it , he pedaled .75 miles! Everyone at the track had a smile on their faces watching him enjoy his bike. The biggest smile there belonged to him though.

Two Ways to Win

Most Votes One bike in each contest will be given away to the entry with the most nominations. Nominations are received from friends and family clicking the “nominate button” on an entrants submission

Bike Raffle All the remaining bikes will be placed in a drawing. To be eligible for the drawing each submission must be nominated by at least 50 friends and family members.

How You Can Help

Whether you have a child with special needs or not you can help more children with special needs win an adaptive bike.

1. Donate To Add More Bikes

In addition to the bikes that have been sponsored, Individuals have the ability to donate to the Great Bike Giveaway to get more bikes added. Every time the donation meter is filled another bike gets added to the drawing!

2. Share and promote

Let as many people as possible know about the opportunity to win an adaptive bike by sharing the the contest via your social networks and email. You can also check out the resources page for additional tools you can use to share the contest.

Contest Timeline

March 4th 11:59 am

Contest submission deadline, no entries will be accepted after this time.

March 5th

Drawing (Drawing date is tentative and subject to change) Will be held and winners will be announced.

To enter the Great Bike Giveaway visit For contest rules visit

A Special Thank You To the Sponsors

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Sally Wants a Sponge House

Sally, a six-year-old child from the UK who has cerebral palsy inspired this year’s World CP Day project by saying she wants a “sponge house” to “stop me banging into things.”

The World CP Day project seeks ideas from people with disabilities like Sally, their families and supporters and then challenges designers and innovators to turn one of those ideas into reality in a global competition for thousands of dollars in prizes.

Like Sally, many children and adults with CP can be prone to knocks, bumps and falls because of unsteady movements. Every aspect of living spaces can be a physical challenge for people with CP. Furniture, household fittings and fixtures, appliances, even walls and floors can be hazardous.

Take the Challenge:

Design a living space that that would minimize the risk of injury from knocks, bumps and falls for people with cerebral palsy. The design may incorporate one or more of these elements: physical layout, furniture, furnishings, fixtures, fittings, appliances, surfaces – e.g. walls, floors, and/or lighting.

Who Can Enter?

The competition is open to everyone, including students and industry practitioners in the fields of interior design, architecture, industrial design, furniture design, etc. An individual, group, university or company can submit an entry.

Applications are accepted until Friday June 19, 2015. There is no entry fee.


Institution prize (e.g. university team or company): $5,000

Individual prize:

  • Winner – one $3,000 prize
  • Highly Commended – two prizes of $1,000

In addition to the prizes, winners will be awarded certificates, acknowledged on the World Cerebral Palsy Day website and social media channels, and promoted to design media.

To Enter:

Register your expression of interest on the World CP Day website. We will send you the full competition guidelines and keep you posted throughout the competition.

Proudly supported by The Allergan Foundation