4 years later...

25th March 2013- 'Life as a Cerebral Palsy student' was created

   Over the last 4 years I have written a lot, and apart from the 6-month break in 2014, it has been pretty constant rambling from a student who has Cerebral Palsy. You've seen the highs, and the lows- and most probably everything in- between. You've seen me get through my GSCE's, A- Levels and first year of university. I hope you have gained a little insight along the way of what life is like for a student who has Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy, chronic pain and impaired vision while in mainstream education and attempting to fit in with peers. Yet the most important thing, I hope you have learned you don't actually have to fit in. It is okay to wear zebra print splints with a dress and it is okay to use a purple wheelchair one day and walk the next! If that is the only thing I have taught you then it has been 4 years worth my while.

   If I look back at my very first blog post it actually makes me a little nervous. I vividly remember not knowing if starting a blog was a good idea. What would I write about? Would it mean anything to anyone else? Would I really want everyone to access to a part of my life that I kept pretty quiet about? Despite these thoughts, the post ended with "who knows what the future holds" and I hit the publish button, I wanted to raise awareness about Cerebral Palsy and wanted to find other young people who knew what it was like. With 67 blog posts since then, and a total of over 48,000 words, I think it is safe to say I have fulfilled those goals! 

   It wasn't until I started blogging that I realised how little awareness for Cerebral Palsy there was, or how little understanding we actually have. Did you know that CP is actually classed as a childhood disability? Well I can tell you it did not magically go away on my 18th birthday! Yet this is what urged me to raise even more awareness, whether this was through my own blog, partnerships, articles, newspapers or even the odd radio interview thrown in there for good measure! I have been honoured to get involved with so many projects which has not only broadened my audience, but has meant even more people now understand that little bit more about CP.

   I am no stranger to my disability, I would like to say I have the whole thing sussed out, but there is always something that even I am surprised by. Having a disability means that it is simply your version of normal, you know no different, yet that doesn't mean we have to be okay about it 100% of the time. Writing helps me to process the changes that have occurred over the last few years, and trust me when I say there has been many! It's a bit of a running joke that I am taking an extra module at university called 'hospital appointments' and it definitely feels like it at times, being both physically and mentally draining to go through. Even if I know deep down that they will be worth it in the end. However, I hope I can use this experience to make my work better, to be more honest about what it is like and to come up with blog posts on things people wouldn't have even thought of.

   Despite 'Life as a Cerebral Palsy student' exceeding my expectations, even just looking at the things I have done in the last 12 months! I hope I give reassurance to parents by letting them know their child is not the diagnosis they have been given. I aspire to give comfort to other people with Cerebral Palsy, producing blog posts that they can relate to and for them to know they are most definitely are not alone. Finally, my goal is to develop people's understanding and challenge social attitudes surrounding disability. What better way to do that, than to do something you love. 

Happy 4th birthday 'Life as a Cerebral Palsy student', I cannot wait to see what next year brings!

~ Chloe x

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