International Day of Acceptance
annually on January 20th (since 2010)
International Day of Acceptance is devoted to bringing about the social acceptance of disability and carries on the spirit of Annie Hopkins. Growing up, Annie viewed the world around her as putting limits on what she could do and who she could become, and she saw people with disabilities, like her, as facing discrimination. She realized the expectations people had for her didn't include her living alone or pursuing higher education, and she knew that strangers who passed her by thought more about her disability and her life expectancy than they did of her as a person.
As Annie matured, she pushed the boundaries of what was expected of her. She won talent shows in high school and forced the hand of her college campus to build ramps at 40 sorority houses so that she could participate in rush week. After college, she created YouTube videos that were educational yet brimming humor, which highlighted how she took on her challenges.
In 2007, along with her brother Stevie, she started 3E Love, a business designed to educate, embrace, and empower people. She also created the Wheelchair Heart symbol, which is meant to unite people of all abilities and start conversations that help change attitudes. On January 20, 2009, Annie passed away from complications during a simple medical procedure. Her brother continued her work in her honor.
International Day of Acceptance was first held in 2010, on the first anniversary of Annie's death. Instead of being a day of mourning, the yearly event became a day that exemplifies Annie's message of empowerment and love of life, and a day that focuses on the acceptance of disabilities. Her Wheelchair Heart symbol was used around the world, with people displaying it on homemade posters and posting it on social media, and exhibiting it on T-shirts, stickers, and temporary tattoos. It continues to be a symbol of acceptance today, and people continue to spread the message of acceptance around the world.
How to Observe International Day of Acceptance
Here are some ways the day could be observed:
- Spread the word about the holiday online, inviting others to participate. On social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, change your profile picture or cover photo and use the hashtag #DayOfAcceptance. Include a caption in your posts that outlines what acceptance means to you and why you are celebrating.
- Wear an official T-shirt for the day, put up a yard sign, or give out or wear buttons, bracelets, tattoos, or stickers that are dedicated to the day and showcase the Wheelchair Heart symbol.
- Organize a party or dinner. Start the conversation about acceptance and convince others to get involved with the day and its goals. Tell attendees to wear something with the Wheelchair Heart symbol, or provide tattoos, stickers, or bracelets for your guests as they arrive. Ask attendees to discuss what the Wheelchair Heart symbol means to them.
- Give a presentation at work or school. Invite a guest speaker to promote positive images of disability.
Stevie and the folks at 3E Love have said this about the day, which you can reflect on as you decide how you will observe it:
Tell the world you embrace who you are; are a person with social rights, who has an opinion, who has interests, who has goals and who loves life. You are a person who is empowered to make a difference in the world and will not be without a voice in society. You are not living disabled, you are living.
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.