Teen With Cerebral Palsy Does Not ‘Miraculously’ Walk For Her Graduation

Chris Mielo
Image of a news story with the headline “Teen With Cerebral Palsy Miraculously Walks at Georgia High School Graduation”

I get it.

It’s the age of click-bait and sensationalized headlines. But can we please stop? It’s hurting us.

“Teen With Cerebral Palsy Miraculously Walks at Georgia High School Graduation”

That’s the headline. It runs counter to all the information in the story and it objectifies Darby Cochran and people like her.

So let me stress this…

THIS WAS NOT MIRACULOUS.

This moment was something that Darby Cochran worked hard towards. She put in time and effort with her physical therapist to reach the goal she had for her and her mom. Calling it a miracle diminishes her work and effort.

THIS WAS NOT MIRACULOUS.

This adaptive technology she uses was created to enable mobility function for those with physical disabilities. Research and development teams have worked long and hard to develop this technology. Calling it a miracle diminishes their work and effort.

THIS WAS NOT MIRACULOUS.

Finally, this narrative hurts people with disabilities. Ask anyone with a visible disability and they can probably tell you a story of a time someone has approached them offering some sage advice about how faith or religion can cure disability. That if they just believe and pray hard enough they can be ‘normal’ someday. Yet I don’t see even the most devout amputees growing legs back.

This idea that has strangers approaching people with disabilities on the streets, promising the impossible and diminishing their worth as a human based on society’s ability “baseline,” is perpetuated by headlines and stories like these. In a number of months this headline will be passed around, minus the important details of the adaptive technology and how hard Darby worked, as proof of miracles of healing, perpetuating the cycle of approaching strangers, false promises, and objectification.

So let me say very clearly. A person with a disability worked hard to accomplish her goal. A physical therapist worked hard to help her. A group of people worked hard to develop the technology that provided them that opportunity.

THIS WAS NOT MIRACULOUS.

Chris Mielo

Written by

Disabled athlete, motivational speaker, Pittsburgher

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