Celebrating our seventy years of service as Cerebral Palsy Midlands this year, I have been researching through our rich archives and history to find our early beginning's and how we come to be set up offering day care services to adults with cerebral palsy and relating conditions. Today I found a yearbook, celebrating fifty years of Midlands People with Cerebral Palsy (MSA) now Cerebral Palsy Midlands (CPM) and inside the yearbook, a poem written by one of our long term clients, Margaret Green, caught my eye.  
Count your blessings by Margaret Green 
All of us have problems 
Which makes us gripe and groan 
So that feel hard done by 
And gives us cause to moan 
 
But when I look around at life 
And see how it can be 
I see many other folk 
Much worse off than me 
 
It makes me stop and wonder 
How awful it would be 
If I were suddenly struck blind 
With eyes that could not see 
 
And loving music as I do 
My feelings are so strong 
For all the deaf who cannot hear 
The sound of birds in song. 

Margaret Green, here singing at our CPM Factor talent competition in 2016. Singer and Poet here at CPM 

One of the greatest things I find working here at Cerebral Palsy Midlands as a Development Officer is how welcoming, positive and inspirational all the people are here. I feel like I am part of big CPM family. This poem, for me, is inspirational and has some great council. 
 
The charity changed their name from 'Midlands Spastic Association' as it started out as in 1947 to 'Midlands People with Cerebral Palsy' in 1996 and then in 2004 we became, as we are now, Cerebral Palsy Midlands. Reading through the history we have to keep in mind much of the language and ideology surrounding disability has evolved and that words such as; 'spastic', 'handicap' and 'cripple' were back then wideley used terms. And whilst we no longer use these derogatory terms, they were a part of our enriching and ever changing history. 
 
We were pioneers, we started a movement that before, wasn't available in the United Kingdom. Dr Earl Carlson was a world leading authority on cerebral palsy. Having the condition himself, he trained to be a doctor and became a specialist. Together with local business men Paul Cadbury and Stephen Quayle, they set about creating an organisation for the welfare of those with cerebral palsy. Midland Spastic Association was established in 1947 to act as a central advisory coordinating and consultative body for the West Midlands, for the well-being and welfare of sufferers from spastic paralysis (cerebral palsy). Their initial aims were; 
o To provide facilities for training and treatment. 
o To establish the very first 'day school' in the United Kingdom 'Carlson House School' here in Birmingham. (This was set up next door to MSA in 1948). 
o For educational and medical research to be carried out. 
o For vocational training of disabled people. 
o To support those with cerebral palsy with general social welfare and advocacy where necessary. 
 
From the very outset of MSA, the organisation, wanted to promote independence and this is a strong value we still hold here at CPM. The MSA rules detailed that they were responsible for; ‘Taking all measures to assist those handicapped by spastic paralysis and its allied conditions to take their normal place in the community and to help them so far as is possible to become physically socially and economically independent.' 
 
Further aims of MSA in 1947 included; 
• To produce information leaflets for the local community, medical centres and schools and to fundraise. 
• They vowed to assist in the promotion of legislation national and local that would affect their community of people. 
• To open their doors to all medical professionals and organisations. 
• And members associated with the organisation would have to pay an annual subscription. 
 
As you have read, not much has changed from our early visionary aims that we set out to achieve as MSA, we still aim for people to reach their full potential. Promoting independence, effectively communicating and educating people about disability awareness.  
 
Written by Sarah Lilly, Development Officer for Cerebral Palsy Midlands 
 
For more information about our history and archives please contact Development Officer Sarah Lilly by email sarah@cpmids.org.uk or telephone 0121 427 3182 (ext. 3). 
 
 
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