Recognizing National Cerebral Palsy Month

March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month! We had the pleasure of learning from two amazing individuals with cerebral palsy and how Easterseals UCP (ESUCP) has supported their family’s journey. Their stories share their unique experiences and the positive impact of the support they receive from ESUCP!

Meree has cerebral palsy. She participates in EMPOWER Wilmington’s afterschool program, summer camp and respite Saturdays, which allows her primary caregiver time for their own self-care or other activities. Her mom, Carla learned about Easterseals UCP’s EMPOWER programs through Meree’s elementary school teacher and Meree has been actively involved ever since. She first participated in EMPOWER’s summer camp, which later developed into her participation and love for EMPOWER’s afterschool program.  

Carla shares, “At EMPOWER, Meree is welcomed, loved and safe. She’s quite the social butterfly and gets to interact with her peers while experiencing new things and building life skills. We would be lost without EMPOWER!” Meree is the youngest of three siblings and a light to everyone around her. Her continued growth is a testament to the impact of the support services she receives. Her journey demonstrates the importance of acceptance and the value of having positive personal development, while still having fun!


Emma is a vibrant 8-year-old in Greenville, NC, with cerebral palsy (CP). Nothing holds her back from having fun and doing the things she loves. She receives awesome support from Easterseals UCP EMPOWER Greenville and her loving mom, Dawn. Emma has received support from Easterseals UCP since birth. Her mother, Dawn, worked at our child development center in Greenville for 23 years. She began as a teacher and later served as the director for 9 years. Dawn knew firsthand about the ESUCP’s positive outcomes in supporting kids with CP and had no doubt that it would be a place where Emma would thrive. “I felt comfortable having Emma participate in EMPOWER because the team is well trained and knows her needs so well,” says Dawn. “I wouldn’t have her anywhere else.”

Emma described how her CP affects her mobility in saying, “My CP affects my walking, so I use my walker to help me.” Her walker enables Emma and Dawn to stay active, as they are constantly engaged in various activities such as school, Girl Scouts (where Emma is a Brownie), enjoying nature and participating in therapeutic horseback riding through Rocking Horse Ranch.

In addition to being an EMPOWER participant, Emma also receives developmental therapy and Dawn receives respite services. Emma shared that her favorite things about EMPOWER’s programs are playing with her friends and the adventures they get to have together, including going on field trips and engaging in educational activities. She has made lifelong friends through the program and says, “I have my best friends there. We have lots of fun!”

Easterseals UCP and PORT Health are trustworthy, compassionate partners providing exceptional disability, behavioral health and addiction treatment services to help our neighbors live their best lives. Purpose, dedication and empathy drive our in-person and telehealth service delivery. Our diverse and inclusive 2,600 member team provides more than 10.2 million hours of meaningful support to 40,200 kids, adults and families in 11,000 home, facility and community locations across North Carolina and Virginia. Learn more at