Mom tackles the hard questions

By Candi Carter Olson, assistant professor of media & society at USU

Image of two boys walking uphill.
Gabriel gets a little help from his brother, Christopher.

March 25 is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness DayCerebral Palsy is an umbrella term for a number of non-progressive, non-genetic, non-communicative disorders that affect a person’s movement and muscle control. According to United Cerebral Palsy, there are 800,000 people living with CP in the United States, and an additional 10,000 babies born each year will eventually be diagnosed with CP. My son Gabriel was one of the 10,000 babies born in 2007. He and his identical twin brother, Christopher, were born 10 weeks premature because of complications from a Twin-To-Twin Transfusion Syndrome pregnancy. In February 2015, Gabriel asked me a question that I knew we’d have to face some day, but I wasn’t prepared for it yet. In a fit of frustration, he stomped his foot and said, “Why did I have to be born with Cerebral Palsy?” I had no response at the time, so I’ve written the following letter for the next time I have to answer him. 

Dear Gabriel,

You asked, “Why did I have to be born with Cerebral Palsy?” And my simple answer is, “I don’t know.” I can tell you that you had several risk factors, including being born too early, surviving as the recipient twin from a Twin-To-Twin Transfusion Syndrome pregnancy, struggling to breath after you were born and needing a ventilator, taking in multiple blood transfusions, and enduring multiple infections while you were in the NICU. I can tell you all of these things, but they still don’t answer the question.

May I, instead, answer, “What does having Cerebral Palsy mean for me?” My answer is, “Everything and nothing all at once.”

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CPD by the numbers

10,000 babies born each year will eventually be diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

Spring Break students give of themselves

Image of two girls bowling
A student from Minnesota helps a TOP Sports participant with her bowling ball.

By Sue Reeves

The words “spring break” often bring to mind a group of young people piling into a van and driving 24 hours to ... Utah? To do service work for people in need?

Wait, what? Doesn’t spring break usually involve someplace sunny and tropical, with beach volleyball and beverages with little umbrellas stuck in them?

Not if you’re an Alternative Break Experience (ABE) participant at the University of St. Benedict’s and St. John’s University in Minnesota. For the fifth consecutive year, a group of students has chosen to visit the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University to recycle power wheelchair parts, practice social skills with young adults, go bowling with young children and hit the ski slopes with Common Ground.

Eleven students made the trip, arriving on March 1 and leaving on March 7. In between, they packed the days with activities and spent their evenings with host families, learning about life in Logan and at the CPD.  The group was honored as “Volunteers of the Year” at the CPD’s annual Nacho Party on March 2, and also spent time with the Aggies Elevated and PEER students and participants at DSL and TOP Sports.

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