Two Australian Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Games hopefuls are pushing for a change around the awareness of their disability with World Cerebral Palsy Day to be celebrated tomorrow.
Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination, caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth.
Through their achievements in Para-sport, Para-Alpine skier Jonty O’Callaghan and Sochi 2014 Paralympic snowboarder Ben Tudhope both hope to remove some common misconceptions around those living with the conditions.
Tudhope has cerebral palsy which has caused partial paralysis on his left side.
“I don’t have complete control on the left side of my body, so with snowboarding I have to figure out different movements and adapt to a variety of techniques," he said.
“I really think the condition needs to be understood by everyone as it’s the most common disability found in children.
"As a Paralympian, I am hoping to influence others on increasing public awareness.
"Cerebral palsy is incurable but there are treatments available that can greatly change a life."
Tudhope was chosen to carry the Australian flag at the Sochi 2014 Closing Ceremony at just 14 years of age.
O’Callaghan suffered from a stroke while still in the womb, which has resulted in paralysis on the right side of his body.
“I depend solely on my left side limbs so it puts a lot more strain on my body and takes me longer to recover after training and competition,” he said.
“It takes longer to adapt to everyday tasks like tying shoelaces but as time goes on, many people with cerebral palsy including myself become stronger and more capable.”
Aiming towards a top five finish in Para-Alpine skiing at Pyeongchang 2018, O’Callaghan has urged people to avoid common misconceptions.
“Don’t come to conclusions about people with cerebral palsy, and avoid common myths made about those with the condition," he added.
"People who have cerebral palsy have so much talent and it’s great to see Australians embrace disability and be open with what they can contribute to society."