Celebrating National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

In honor of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month this March, FREED Center for Independent Living partnered with the California Department of Rehabilitation to host a live recording of the Disability Rap radio show and podcast. The show featured a panel discussion focusing on the transition from youth to adulthood for people with cerebral palsy. Our panelists shared their stories of growing up with CP and the choices, obstacles, and opportunities they faced as they entered the workforce. The panel was moderated by Ana Acton, former Executive Director of FREED and Host of Disability Rap, now the Deputy Director of the Independent Living and Community Access Division at the California Department of Rehabilitation.

Click here to listen to and read the transcript of the show.

Click here to watch the recording of the show.

Special thanks to Ana Acton and the California Department of Rehabilitation for their partnership in hosting this event with FREED!

About the Panelists:

Alexa Guerrero is a Systems Advocate at Placer Independent Resource Services (PIRS) in Auburn, CA. During her time in college, Alexa was a YO! (Youth Disabled and Proud) Volunteer for the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers. This experience opened her eyes to the importance of advocacy, and by the end of her time as a YO! Volunteer, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in disability advocacy. Upon graduating from Sacramento State University with a BA in 2014, Alexa embarked on the journey of job hunting. Little did she realize that this task would be more challenging than anticipated, given her mobility and speech limitations. While she found enjoyment in various field jobs, none of them fully satisfied her desire to advocate on a broader systemic level. She couldn’t be happier in her present role at PIRS, where she advocates not only for herself but also for others in the community on issues that she is deeply passionate about.

Dr. Toni Saia is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Rehabilitation Technology Certificate at San Diego State University within the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, and Postsecondary Education. She is a disabled woman with a deep commitment to social justice, inclusion, and equity for all. Her professional work history has involved advocating for a progressive understanding of disability within the applied fields. A shift from diagnosis to disability as a culture and identity. One worth choosing and celebrating.

Headshot of Carl Sigmond

Carl Sigmond is the Operations Manager at FREED and Co-host and Co-producer of the Disability Rap radio show and podcast. As Operations Manager, Carl ensures that FREED’s digital infrastructure runs smoothly, assists with grant writing and reporting, and coordinates FREED’s Advocacy Program. In addition to his role at FREED, Carl is a Research Engineer in the Speech Disorders and Technology Lab at The University of Texas at Austin, where he works to improve speech recognition algorithms for people with speech disabilities. Before becoming FREED’s Operations Manager, Carl was FREED’s Disability Community Advocate in 2017 and then again from 2020 to 2021. Carl has a degree in Computer Science from Haverford College, where he also studied nonviolent direct action theory and documentary filmmaking.

Lindsey Wells is the Disability Community Advocate at FREED and Co-host and Co-producer of the Disability Rap radio show and podcast. In her role as FREED’s Disability Community Advocate, Lindsey advocates with and for people with disabilities and seniors to exercise their Civil Rights on a local, state, and national level. Lindsey was born with Cerebral Palsy and grew up in Modesto, CA. She graduated from Beyer High School in 2001 and received her Associates of Science in Early Childhood Education from Yuba College. She is passionate about transportation and housing needs of the people FREED serves. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.


About the Moderator:

Ana Acton is the Deputy Director for the Independent Living and Community Access Division at the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). Under this division, the DOR works with Independent Living Centers, Traumatic brain Injury Program sites, and Assistive Technology (AT) service providers throughout California to provide a wide variety of disability services and supports. DOR’s Disability Access Section provides technical assistance and training to state and local government, consumers, employers, and businesses to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. As well, the California Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities makes policy recommendations to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities and puts on an annual event for youth with disabilities. Ana uses a wheelchair due to having a physical disability and has over 19 years’ experience in providing direct services and leadership for independent living community-based services in California.

About Disability Rap

FREED started producing the Disability Rap radio show in 1987 on community radio station KVMR Nevada City, CA, as a way to lift up the stories and voices of people with disabilities in our community. The show has been on the air ever since, covering current and emerging issues we face as people with disabilities. Today, the show is hosted and produced by Carl Sigmond and Lindsey Wells, two FREED staff members who have cerebral palsy. It still airs on KVMR and is also available on the Disability Rap podcast and on the Disability Rap website.


FREED is an Independent Living Center serving five mostly rural counties in Northern California. We provide a wide array of programs and services to older adults and people with disabilities of any age. More than half of our Board and staff identify as people with disabilities, and that drives our work as a peer-led organization. FREED’s mission is to promote independence and self-determination for people with disabilities through person-driven services, collaborative community partnerships and education, and leadership that advocates for fully inclusive communities.

About California Department of Rehabilitation

The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) works in partnership with consumers and other stakeholders to provide services and advocacy resulting in employment, independent living, and equality for individuals with disabilities. DOR administers the largest vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs in the country. Vocational rehabilitation services are designed to help job seekers with disabilities obtain competitive employment in integrated work settings. Independent living services may include peer support, skill development, systems advocacy, referrals, assistive technology services, transition services, housing assistance, and personal assistance services.

About National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is a month-long event when people with cerebral palsy and our friends and allies come together to share stories and advocate for full integration for people with CP in all parts of society. Started by an advocacy group in 2006, the initiative gained steam in 2013 when the US Congress passed a resolution designating March 25, 2013, as National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day continues to be celebrated around the country on March 25. People celebrate National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day by wearing the color green, using the #GoGreen4CP hashtag, and sharing our stories, online and at events such as this one.