#CPChatNow Hits One Year Milestone


Graphic (put together by Sarah Wambach) used to promote the first #CPChatNow

This past week the live cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow reached the one year milestone! Yes, one year passed since John W. Quinn, Handicap This’ Tim Wambach, and I hosted the very first live #CPChatNow discussion Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013.

As public figures in the cerebral palsy community we welcomed people with CP, their family members, caregivers, and whoever else to come ask us questions about CP. Demands for another live #CPChatNow chat rose leading #CPChatNow to quickly turn into a weekly deal.

Each week new and familiar faces alike joined in. A few months later the demographic shifted to mostly people with CP evolving #CPChatNow into a support group. Every Wednesday at 8pm EST we took to Twitter to announce exciting news, vent our frustrations, and bond over experiences others with CP could best understand.

The connections we made transcended Twitter and the Internet. Two young women with CP who actually attended the same elementary school (albeit grades apart) re-connected due to #CPChatNow. Through their travels Handicap This met different #CPChatNow regulars in-person.

So far I personally enjoyed meeting in-person Blake, a young man with much potential. 2015 should see me getting the chance to meet more #CPChatNow kin in-person. No matter what 2015 brings though, the aforementioned demonstrates the real, meaningful connections made by the live chat.

Now the year also saw other commitments leave my #CPChatNow co-hosts John and Tim to step back from the weekly chat. Upcoming events however should stir new excitement within the live chat’s community.

Like the #CPChatNow Facebook page to stay informed. Join the conversation on Twitter every Wednesday starting at 8pm EST. Do so with these three easy steps listed in the following graphic.

#CPChatNow Instructions

#CPChatNow takes place every Wednesday at 8pm EST.

FYI we do still welcome participation from everyone. In other words cerebral palsy parents, caregivers, and curious strangers. Come join us! You might just find our feedback helpful.


Dispelling Cerebral Palsy Stigmas

Too often the discussion about cerebral palsy focuses on negatives, but two individuals look to help change that. Over on Twitter CPers Kate Meuser (@katethemuse) and Timmy Le (@Timmmyy_Le) began a campaign that utilizes a hash tag, #WhatCPLooksLike. As Timmy tells in his August 15th tweet,

“Starting a campaign w/ @katethemuse about dispelling #CerebralPalsy stigmas by using #WhatCPLooksLike to show what CAN be accomplished.”

#WhatCPLooksLike aims to create a positive cerebral palsy reflection

What does cerebral palsy look like to you? Photo: “Make-up mirror” by Jurii – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Make-up_mirror.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Make-up_mirror.jpg

Obviously I’m all for the idea given I’m writing this post. Now I’m proud to know both Kate and Timmy from the live weekly Wednesday evening CP chat #CPChatNow (8pm EST). If the #WhatCPLooksLike tweets provide an accurate indicator, others from the #CPChatNow community share my sentiments.

So far according to the hash tagged tweets cerebral palsy looks like academic achievement, leadership, and athletic accomplishments. For instance Timmy shared a video showcasing him breaking a board during a Dan Tae Kwon Do exam.

Another #CPChatNow regular Devin (@AdventuresInCP), tweeted a photograph showing him receiving Who’s Who Amongst Grad Students honors. Susanne Brasset (@hazelmist) tweeted out a photo showing her working as a lifeguard.

For my first #WhatCPLooksLike contribution I posted a link to my latest Youtube video.

Honestly I began working on the above video last month prior to the #WhatCPLooksLike campaign. My goal proved to get others to view exercising with cerebral palsy differently. The intensity displayed during the various Rocky montages make them impactful.

By creating “If Rocky Balboa had cerebral palsy…” I desired bringing a similar intensity to exercising with cerebral palsy. Essentially I aimed to dispel any inferiority stigma surrounding exercising with CP, making the video a natural #WhatCPLooksLike fit.

If you have cerebral palsy, do your part to eliminate CP stigmas by sending out some positive #WhatCPLooksLike tweets. Together, we can change the cerebral palsy conversation.

How Do You Think About Your Cerebral Palsy?

Over the past two months a certain word set appears reoccurring in my blogging and vlogging endeavors, “with cerebral palsy (CP).” Just take a look.

“Shoe Shopping with Cerebral Palsy”
“Concert Going with Cerebral Palsy”
“Going to the Ballpark with Cerebral Palsy”

How do you think about your cerebral palsy?

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This catches my attention because when going about these activities I’m not consciously thinking “Oh, I need to keep this in mind because of my CP.” Last year when I saw Tim McGraw at Blossom I didn’t say “I better bring my cane because I have cerebral palsy.”

Instead I think about my specific symptoms. So take the Tim McGraw example I already brought up. I grabbed my cane before heading out to the concert because I thought “I want to be as far down as possible on the lawn seats. I’ll need the cane so I don’t fall going down the hill that is the lawn area.” In said instance I’m focusing on neutralizing my balance issues rather than the label cerebral palsy.

How about another example? When shoe shopping I’m not thinking “Will these shoes work with my CP?” Nope. I’m thinking “Will my inserts fit into these shoes?” I consider my inserts something I need in the same way a cop needs a badge or a waitress needs to balance a tray filled with drinks or food.

Really internally I rarely use the words cerebral palsy. Only when I share my experiences, do I turn to my diagnosis. The term cerebral palsy maintains one valuable function I believe, to communicate. Us in the CP community can communicate with each other and express comparable life experiences. Similarly we can communicate to the able-bodied world and create better CP awareness.

Inside my own head though, I don’t need to communicate about CP because I already know. I recognize my poor balance and other special needs. However, I view those in context with who I am as a whole person. To me I’m Zachary, a talented writer, avid Cleveland Indians fan who happens to walk a little differently and needs a rail to ascend/descend stairs.

If you have cerebral palsy, let me pose a question to you. How often do you use the term cerebral palsy internally within your thoughts? Please answer by commenting below. Thanks!

Yahoo! Voices Closing

On Thursday, July 31st Yahoo! Voices (www.voices.yahoo.com) will cease to exist and by mid-August the corresponding Yahoo! Contributor Network (Y! CN) will also become history. Yahoo! Voices and Y! CN succeeded Associated Content (AC) after Yahoo purchased AC a few years back. Now I’m mentioning the shutdowns because they will result in bonus posts here. Allow me to explain.

Between 2009 and 2011 I wrote various cerebral palsy (CP) related articles still currently published on Yahoo! Voices. These pieces arranged from book and music reviews to informative articles, interviews with individuals in the CP community, and more. Once Yahoo! Voices ceases existence, I’m free to re-publish said articles elsewhere.

After some thinking I decided to take the best 10 CP related articles and publish them here in a special series. Considering the seemingly increasing popularity in “Throwback Thursday,” Thursday feels like the right day to share the bonus posts.

Yes, I know Throwback Thursdays involves posting old photographs. Why let images enjoy all the fun though? Hopefully through my special Throwback Thursday series you will discover new people with CP or just new insights that you previously missed.

Stay tuned for a set start date to the series. In the meantime you can check out my thoughts on the Yahoo! Contributor Network closing.

*Blogger’s Note- From December 2012 to December 2013 through Y! CN I also wrote select cerebral palsy related articles published at Yahoo! Health. Those articles will remain up at Yahoo! Health thus making them ineligible for the Throwback Thursday series. However, you will find the links below. Enjoy the reads!



Concert Going with Cerebral Palsy

A couple weeks back during the weekly live Twitter chat #CPChatNow (Wednesdays 8pm EST), I asked a question “How does your body hold up during concerts?” The question seemed fitting seeing how concert going feels like a summertime tradition. Below you’ll find select responses.

Answers to how does your body hold up at concerts?Answer to how does your body hold up during concerts

Interestingly enough I find parallels to my concert experiences within Blemi, Hannah, and Kate’s feedback. Those similarities vary largely based on the concert venue. Last year I saw Tim McGraw play at Blossom Music Center. My friends and I bought lawn seat tickets. Knowing Blossom’s lawn seats lay on a steep grassy hill I decided to bring my cane. I wanted to enjoy myself, not worry about my balance.

Lee Brice

Lee Brice performing at House of Blues Cleveland.

Then in November I saw Lee Brice perform at House of Blues Cleveland. Brice sold out the venue, creating a packed house. Standing for so long without a wall or anything to lean on also left me “paying for it” the next day. Heck, I felt the impact walking back to the car. My entire lower half ached.

Another challenge the crowded House of Blues Cleveland presented occurred during the show. Staying balanced becomes difficult amidst a shoulder to shoulder crammed environment. People accidentally knock into you. If not for friends to grab when needed, I would’ve fallen I’m certain.

Ironically despite the venue proving the more difficult one physically, I actually preferred House of Blues. You experience the artist in a closer proximity. Just look at the Lee Brice picture I snapped for evidence. I could never get such a shot with my current camera from Blossom’s lawn seats.

Obviously buying tickets closer to Blossom’s stage exists as an option, but one my budget dislikes. Rather than diving into the financial factors involved in concert going, I will digress. Let us concentrate on the cerebral palsy related variables.

You now know my insights. Time for others with CP to share, how does cerebral palsy influence your concert going? Do your experiences compare to mind? Or, perhaps like Susanne you avoid concerts due to obstructed views. Do tell by commenting below.

#CPChatNow Week Four Overview


Next Live Twitter Chat: Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Over the past month I mentioned the live Twitter chats John W. Quinn (@johnwquinn), Handicap This! (@HandicapThis), and I (@zacharyfenell) started hosting. By using the hash tag “#CPChatNow” Wednesdays at 8:00pm EST (7pm CST/5pm PST) you can join us to discuss everything cerebral palsy related. Beginning now Tim from Handicap This! and I will take turns recapping each discussion, with Tim’s recaps going up at www.handicapthis.com and mine here.

Given Christmas fell on Wednesday this week, we decided to hold our live Twitter chat #CPChatNow last night. You will find a few highlights below. Thank you to everyone who make these chats engaging and enriching.

John brought up a topic quite native to the season, New Year resolutions.



Everyone seemed to experience at least one “Why me?” moment throughout their lives.


Several Why Me Moments

An interesting question about bullying arose.


What makes a bully, bully?

Encouraging wisdom unfolded.


The above highlights just a few great tweets from last night’s chat. Please join us Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 at 8pm EST (7pm CST, 5pm PST) as we continue to build a more connected cerebral palsy community.

Establishing a Stronger CP Community

FYI regular Off Balanced blog readers, check back tonight for my usual disability related #FF suggestions.

Live Twitter Chat on Cerebral Palsy This Tuesday

Please join John W. Quinn (@johnwquinn), Tim Wambach (@HandicapThis), and I (@zacharyfenell) this Tuesday (December 3rd) on Twitter at 8:00pm EST as we host a live Twitter chat to discuss cerebral palsy, using the hashtag #CPChatNow.

If you followed my blog/Youtube videos for a while now, the names John W. Quinn and Tim Wambach will sound familiar. In fact I featured both John and Tim along with Tim’s friend/co-star Mike Berkson in posts dubbed “Personality Profile” during my blog’s early days (November/December 2011).

Allow me to revisit those posts and use quoted excerpts to introduce my co-hosts for the live cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow.


Image created by Sarah O’Brien

John W. Quinn- “Quinn wrote Someone Like Me- An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy, a book noting how John overcame his cerebral palsy to enjoy a 20-year naval career.”

Tim Wambach- “Mike Berkson embodies this blog’s tagline ‘Putting  the ‘Cerebral’ in Cerebral Palsy’ so well I can’t think of a better candidate for my first personality profile here at Off Balanced. Where cerebral palsy limits Mike, close friend Tim Wambach enables. Together the two spread disability awareness in the form of a live stage show called ‘Handicap This.'”

Returning from flashback quote land, Tim documented the core to his friendship with Mike in the book How We Roll. Tim also serves as the president to a non-profit Mike inspired him to start, the Keep on Keeping On Foundation.

Certainly worth noting, both John and Tim boast Fortune 500 on their resumes. John does motivational speaking, empowering audiences varying from schools to the aforementioned Fortune 500 companies. Tim use to work as a trainer for Next Level Consulting, an organization which provides training services to Fortune 500 companies

Given John and Tim’s respective credentials I feel honored to share the virtual stage with them. We welcome your questions and look forward to answering them. So, make sure you login into Twitter this Tuesday (December 3rd) at 8:00pm EST (7pm CT/5pm PT) and use the hashtag #CPChatNow.

Tweet you later!

*To learn more about John W. Quinn visit www.johnwquinn.com. For more on Tim and Mike’s endeavors, see www.handicapthis.com. Obviously you can learn more about me by looking around here and also by visiting www.zacharyfenell.com.