Archive for January, 2013

January 20: International Day of Acceptance

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Embrace. Educate. Empower.

We first discovered 3E Love and the wheelchair heart at the FSMA conference last summer. I was so moved by the symbol, I hung around the table like a groupie every chance I got. Relatively new to this journey of parenting a child with a disability, I was tickled pink to know that a wheelchair and a heart could be together as one symbol.

I believe everything happens for a reason. I also believe everything happens just the way it is supposed to happen. In the moment we can’t always see that reason. But eventually, if we keep our hearts open, the reasons tend to present themselves. Just days after Oscar’s diagnosis with SMA, I was able to write in a letter to family and friends, “Somewhere in the deep recesses of us, we understand that this little boy has more to teach us about being human than we ever could have imagined.” And we believed it. The diagnosis was unimaginable. What good could come out of it was unreachable. But we knew that someday we’d start to learn. And start to learn, we have.

Sure, being in a wheelchair presents challenges. But it also presents opportunities. Being in a wheelchair does not equal a life that is less-than. Being in a wheelchair does not equal misfortune. A person who uses a wheelchair can celebrate life as fully as a person not using a wheelchair, can live as fully as a person not using a wheelchair. There are many folks I have met with SMA who are living their lives much more fully than many people I know who do not have mobility challenges.

Meeting Stevie Hopkins, who co-created 3E Love with his sister Annie, and being introduced to the wheelchair heart, which Annie originally designed, opened my heart wider. As stated on their website, “3E Love is a social entrepreneurial experiment to change the perception of disability.” The symbol allows me to access what is already in my heart. It allows me to continue to be the relentless optimist that I am, despite the unique challenges our family faces. The wheelchair heart allows me to celebrate Oscar completely and wholly, wheelchair and all, and to share that celebration, that joy, with the world around me.

Please take some time to visit, read the stories about Stevie and Annie and the meaning of the symbol. Buy a pin, or a t-shirt, or a bag. Spread the message of social acceptance. Embrace. Educate. Empower. Wear your heart on your sleeve. We do.