On Tuesday, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) celebrated its 60th anniversary, and in keeping with its longstanding tradition of working to improve the lives of people with cerebral palsy, the company launched a new public service campaign. It is meant to encourage the public to interact with people with disabilities and is strikingly simple. Called “Just Say Hi,” it features a series of videos in which a variety of people tell the viewer that all you have to do to talk to a person with a disability is say hello. It may seem obvious, but in fact, many people tend to forget that it can be that straightforward in their anxiety that they will have an awkward interaction or accidentally say something offensive. This line of thinking is what leads to the feelings of social isolation that many people with disabilities experience on a daily basis. When others are intimidated and don’t talk to them, they feel ignored and disengaged. Saying hi is the easiest thing another person can do to combat that. As CEO of CPF Richard Ellenson says, “While ‘just saying hi’ only scratches the surface of all we can do, it’s a simple and impactful first step.”
The videos feature celebrities and public figures from The Wire actor Jim True-Frost and his son, Leo, to CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and athlete Alex Rodriguez and chef Mario Batali are due to film their videos in the upcoming weeks. The videos will get air time on CBS and its affiliates and throughout New York City via taxis and billboards. If you want to join the conversation online, you are encouraged to do so using #JustSayHi. Hopefully if we work together, we can make sure that everyone, disabled or not, feels included.