International Day of Acceptance is a day dedicated to social acceptance of disability and to honor the late Annie Hopkins, founder of 3E Love, and creator of the International Symbol of Acceptance. We have children, parents, siblings, partners, coworkers, friends, neighbours, cousins, clients, teachers, and peers living their lives with disabilities, perhaps you are as well. Today is a day to take a step toward accepting and embracing what makes us different and diverse. See how you can make a difference and join the movement at www.dayofacceptance.com.
Who is Annie?Annie was born into a world that tried to limit who she could be and what she could do. She grew up seeing her peers and role models with disabilities face discrimination daily, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes indirectly. Annie lived in a society where people with disabilities were not portrayed in the media as beautiful, able, or equal members of a community. She entered her teens knowing that she wasn’t expected to pursue a higher education or to live independently. She lived life knowing that strangers thought more about her disability and presumed life expectancy than they thought to say hello as she rolled by. Annie didn’t care. In fact, she was calculatedly reckless in how she chose to live, always pushing the boundaries of what people thought she could do and using her experiences to educate others…Annie was everything a person hopes to be as a family, friend and community member. She was generous, courageous, and empathetic and she lived how people all wish to live. Annie embodied the very best spirit that humankind has to offer one another, and the world.Annie Hopkins was an advocate, entrepreneur, artist, and student, who demonstrated what is possible when you love life.In 2007, she recruited her brother Stevie to help her start a company to spread her message. She created 3E Love with the idea that her “Wheelchair Heart” symbol unified people of all abilities and it ignited conversations every day that would help change attitudes for the better. Her ideas didn’t stop there: she wanted to create a disability owned and disability operated social entrepreneurial endeavor that one day, would be successful, would further empowerment and would demonstrate what can be achieved with a positive love for life and changing perceptions.Social acceptance is the key… not the pity and ignorance with which she grew up.Embrace diversity. Educate your community. Empower each other. Love life!Unfortunately, on January 20th, 2009, the survival of Annie’s message was threatened when she passed away from unexpected complications to a simple medical procedure. Overwhelming support from friends, family, and the disability community helped keep her ideals alive. Stevie Hopkins, her brother who helped her start 3E Love, took the reins and never looked back.
International Day of AcceptanceInternational Day of Acceptance began in the beginning of 2010. Stevie and his family were not looking forward to the Chicago winter, the snow, and everything else that would remind them of losing Annie. 3E Love and Annie’s message had become Stevie’s primary source of strength and hope during the first year after Annie’s passing, and so he had the idea to change January 20th from a day that represents sadness and loss to a day that represents Annie’s message of empowerment and loving life. If people all over the world would embrace their challenges and accept others no matter their ability, Annie’s message and lifestyle would be alive forever. People on the internet from all over the world responded positively and got everyone they knew involved. Even if they did not own one of our t-shirts to wear, or could not afford temporary tattoos or stickers, they drew the symbol on their hand, made homemade posters, posted about it on social networks, and did everything they could to show the world that they were a part of this acceptance movement. January 20th would now and forevermore be an International celebration to celebrate Annie’s life, her ideas, and the 3E Love movement instead of mourning her loss.Tell the world that you are accepting of people with disabilities. As our parents, siblings, relatives, spouses, children, lovers, coworkers, teachers, personal assistants, friends, and anyone else – you also have a role in our culture and life. You can start change by demonstrating acceptance and showing the world that you embrace people of all abilities.
Start the conversation of acceptance today!* Change your Facebook profile to the International Day of Acceptance logo* Post the logo to your Facebook wall* Tweet, share, forward this post* Draw the wheelchair heart logo on your hand and let people know your messageReposted with permission from 3ELove