Monday, June 10, 2013

The Abstract

As you know, this Fall I'll be flying over to Munich to talk about my experiences with Conductive Education and Cerebral Palsy. I can only tell you about my life, who I am and how I get there. I'm not sure if it's anything particularly interesting, but if they want me talk, I'll gladly do so.  And I guess there's some value in finding out what it was like from my perspective. The years of rehabilitation- what it was for me as a child, how I viewed it from the other side of things- I'm not a parent of a CP child, nor was I Conductor. For the readers of my blog the things I say may not be terribly new, but I was asked to prepare an abstract for the things I plan to talk about.

What I've learnt from Conductive Education: From my childhood with Cerebral Palsy to independent adult life

As a Cerebral Palsy child I benefited from Conductive Education myself. My parents would stop at nothing to make me independent and my body functional. That was many years ago, back in the communist block, but the lessons of how to move around, transfer my weight, learning how to use my limbs and body to the best of my abilities, to adjust, reach further and try harder are with me till this day. As an adult I became an associate Director of a Conductive Education school in America and I had a privilege to observe a new generation of CE pupils discover their own strengths. I also got to see the problems the Conductors and the method face in America. My life story drove me from Poland where I was born grew up to America where I'm an attorney in two states, fighting for rights of individuals with disabilities . Cerebral Palsy is a condition that I have, but I never let it stop me. It doesn't have me. Today I'm in my 30's. I have a career, I'm independent and my journey in life is always just beginning. But I would never be where I am today if it wasn't for all the hard work my parents made me do ever since I was 6, 7 if not younger and all they have sacrificed. You can have CP and have a life. You can be the best you can be. The years in Budapest are rooted in me firmly- as a seven year old I had to learn Hungarian in a facility where strangers issued commands in a strange language that I was expected to reply to. What little mobility I have I owe to the hours of walking in braces although my feet hurt and the skin on my hands grew harder, and the exercises I would often irritate my skin when my legs brushed against the plinth. I, remember the routines. I remember the uniforms I was made to wear. I remember the joy that every small progress brought. I even remember how close we were with the loving, yet demanding Conductors, and how as children we wept when one of them left us. Some 25 years later I was reunited with one of those ladies through the magic of Facebook. As it turns out she remembered me, as well as my family. When I first arrived at the Peto Institute I was just a little boy. My story of what Conductive Education was for me can't really be separated from what being a child growing up, discovering the world for him self was. Because through the years of hard work, rehabilitation, education and life I became who I am today. My beliefs and support for CE come from experiences- I know what it had done for me. But it wasn't enough. Not for those who are not convinced. Through my years in law school I met a local University professor who started a CE Academy in his late sons' memory. He believed that my story can turn their fortunes around, inspire parents and donors, give hope. But I quickly discovered that in America Conductive Education faces little exposure, little interest and support. Funding becomes a challenge. I was not able to help them in ways they have hoped. The school has since closed its doors and the potential of helping those kids is wasted. With something we all knew could have helped them. But today I help the disability community in a different way. I started a disability awareness nonprofit in Florida to empower those with special needs through education and information. I never give up and I always look for another way. Because my parents who sacrificed their health to carry me on their backs in Poland and then spend the last dime to send me to Budapest would never give up on me. Even today, as I made a life for myself far from home I never lose hope and faith that what I do has a meaning.

No comments:

Post a Comment