The Cerebral Palsy Association of Saint Lucia (CPA) has joined the rest of the World in raising awareness on the condition of Cerebral Palsy which is a silent but important issue in St.Lucia. World Cerebral Palsy Day was observed on September 4th 2012 and the CPA conducted several activities to mark the observance.

The CPA held a church service on Sunday 2nd September, an exhibition on Tuesday 4th September at the Sure Start Pre-School and a Family Fun Day on Sunday 9th September. The Family Fun Day held at the LIME grounds Corinth, was the pinnacle of the week of activities as this was the first time that families came together to have an enjoyable day without being shunned or scrutinized because of their child’s inability. Instead, the focus was on including the children in all the activities and ensuring that they were not hindered by their physical inability. The children participated in dental screening, face painting, physiotherapy and horseback riding- an alternative form of therapy. Games were also coordinated by the Special Olympics Team of St.Lucia.

Parents also got the opportunity to de-stress by having back massages done compliments Ti Spa of Calabash Cove. The afternoon was well received by all, which reiterated the need to conduct these therapeutic activities for the affected families. We were pleased to have the presence of Mrs. Joanna Arthurton, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Transformation to be part of our first Family Day.

Approximately 17 million people worldwide are affected by Cerebral Palsy (CP). This condition occurs from childhood, therefore continuous physical, occupational and speech therapy must be administered from a tender age to allow these children to become contributing individuals in our society.

In St.Lucia we have over 80 registered cases of children living with Cerebral Palsy as of 2012. These children eventually become adults and are no longer kept on records; this leaves room for speculation on how many adults are living with Cerebral Palsy in St.Lucia?

The greatest misconception of CP is that the children cannot learn. Whilst some children are mentally affected a greater number are not and therefore these children should be awarded the opportunities to be educated like a regular child through adapted settings.

The therapy needs of all these children are not met and this is crucial to the development of the children. Early intervention needs to be a priority for AT RISK children. The critical age group to have an impact on affected children is the age group 0-5 years. Universal education forms part of the early intervention program and must take into account children with special needs from a tender age.

The CPA would like to highlight the rights of children and implores all authorities to allocate more resources to helping meet these rights for children challenged in any form; not just Cerebral Palsy. The CPA is also seeking a more cohesive and harmonious relationship between the Ministries as much is needed to provide for a child with Cerebral Palsy and the approach must be integrated from Health and Education, to Social Welfare.

The CPA would like to thank the following for making this event a success: LIME, Exelsign, Calabash Cove Resort & Spa, Domino’s Pizza, Bay Garden’s Hotel, Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort, KFC, Pizza Pizza, Rituals Coffee House, Paradise Springs, Du Boulays Bottling, Blue Waters, GL Food Market, Ferrands Dairy, CFL, Renwick & Co. and all our volunteers.