KIT celebrates the International Day of Acceptance (IDOA) 2023! In this blog post, we explore how we can work together to raise awareness of acceptance and disability inclusion, and how we can use Annie Hopkins’ 3E Love Credo to continue doing the important work of building a future where all kids are included.
Every year on January 20th, the world comes together to celebrate the International Day of Acceptance (IDOA), bringing us just one step closer to a future where people with disabilities are accepted and included in all facets of life.
Let’s make it a day to be celebrated by all.
Read on to learn more about the IDOA and its founder Annie Hopkins and to explore links to free resources to help you make this important day more meaningful for kids with disabilities, their families, and care providers.
What is the IDOA?
The International Day of Acceptance is a day dedicated to the memory of the late Annie Hopkins (1984-2009), an advocate, entrepreneur, artist, and founder of the disability-owned and operated social enterprise 3E Love, and creator of the International Symbol of Acceptance:
Annie Hopkins founded 3E Love in order to make the world a better place for people of all abilities, especially those with disabilities. The International Symbol of Acceptance is a great example of her passion for this goal. It shows a wheelchair in the shape of a heart, and can be used by anyone to communicate acceptance, love, and understanding.
When Annie passed away on January 20, 2009, she left a legacy that will always be remembered. Her memory lives on in the hearts of her friends and family, as well as the hearts of those throughout the world who have been impacted by her work.
Annie’s brother Stevie Hopkins helped her start 3E Love and paid tribute to his sister’s selfless efforts on the first anniversary of her passing. To honor Annie’s memory, Stevie and the Hopkins family founded this annual celebration of her life and work.
What Is The 3E Love Credo?
The 3E Love Credo is the foundation of the International Day of Acceptance. “Credo” is the Latin word for “I believe”; and the 3 Es, which stand for Embrace, Educate and Empower, encapsulates the guiding principles and beliefs of 3E Love.
Combined together, the 3E Love Credo & the International Symbol of Acceptance embodies Annie’s impactful message: a universal call for love, acceptance, and empowerment of people with disabilities, representing real people and real life instead of perceptions and stereotypes, dedicated to creating a more inclusive society.
The first element of the credo, “Embrace,” is about accepting and embracing oneself and others, including one’s disabilities. This means recognizing that everyone is unique, and has something valuable to contribute.
The second element, “Educate,” is about increasing awareness and understanding of disabilities through open, safe, and honest conversations. This includes educating the public about the challenges and barriers that people with disabilities face, as well as educating individuals with disabilities about their rights and the resources available to them.
The third element, “Empower,” is about giving individuals with disabilities the tools and resources they need to live fulfilling lives. This includes providing education and training, as well as advocating for policies and programs that support individuals with disabilities. To learn more about Annie Hopkins and support 3E Love, explore their website or browse their products.
The Power of Acceptance & What It Means To The Disability Community
Acceptance is something many people are hoping for. You may hear it from kids, teens, and adults when they say, “I just want to be respected for who I am.” There can be barriers to acceptance, especially to those with disabilities.
Acceptance is a seemingly simple concept but it encompasses a wide range of beliefs, attitudes, and actions. When the non-disabled community practices acceptance, the barriers to inclusion are lowered for kids and adults with disabilities.
In light of this year’s IDOA, let’s take a look at what acceptance truly means, and how, through building a culture of meaningful inclusion in our own communities, we can actively create a brighter future for all kids to grow up in a world where they will see themselves as valuable members of society, recognized by their own individual talents, capabilities, and strengths.
For the disability community, acceptance is:
- Recognizing that people with disabilities are just as valuable and deserving of respect as those without disabilities. This means treating people with disabilities with dignity and respect, and recognizing that they have rights to the same opportunities as non-disabled people.
- Understanding that the disability community is as diverse as the non-disabled community and that there is strength in diversity. This means making disability part of the conversation about diversity in all aspects of life.
- Recognizing that the barriers to disability inclusion do not fall on the responsibility of the person with the disability. This means providing accommodations, policies and support that allow people with disabilities to fully participate in all aspects of society, from education and employment to social and recreational activities.
- Recognizing and valuing the contributions and talents of people with disabilities. This means viewing disability as diversity, not something to be pitied. People with disabilities contribute to the community and economy through their vast experience as entrepreneurs, artists, politicians, teachers and many other professional roles.
- Challenging and changing societal stereotypes, prejudices, and barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society. This means educating and raising awareness about the importance of inclusion, accessibility, and diversity.
- Allowing people with disabilities to self-determine their own lives and make their own choices. This means giving people with disabilities the right to make decisions about their own lives and providing them with the support they need to do so.
- Understanding that inclusion and acceptance benefit all people, not just those with disabilities. People are often trapped in the belief that inclusion only extends to the disability community but, in reality, when every person and every child is included, with or without disabilities, everyone benefits.
So now we know what acceptance means, but how can we turn that into action? Check out some practical ideas and activities to help foster acceptance and inclusion in your school or organization:
- Host an event or assembly to raise awareness about the International Day of Acceptance and the importance of accepting and including kids with disabilities in the school community. If you’re holding an IDOA event now, make sure to document your event and use IDOA 2023’s official hashtag #dayofacceptance in your social media posts!
- Invite a guest speaker with a disability to share their experiences and perspectives with students and staff.
- Create a campaign to promote acceptance and inclusion of kids with disabilities, using posters, social media, and other forms of communication.
- Provide training and professional development opportunities for teachers and staff on how to effectively support and include kids with disabilities in the classroom or program.
- Showcase the talents of kids with disabilities through art shows, talent shows, or other events to emphasize their value and contributions to the school or program community.
- Encourage students and staff to wear a symbol of acceptance such as a pin or bracelet on the day of the event
- Create a resource center or library that offers books, videos, and other materials that focus on acceptance and inclusion of kids with disabilities.
- Encourage participation and volunteering at organizations that support children with disabilities.
- Offer accommodations and support, such as sign language interpreters, assistive technology, and other services that allow kids with disabilities to fully participate in school and program activities.
IDOA 2023 Is The Perfect Time To Kick Off Another Year Of Acceptance And Inclusion!
Here are some ways KIT can help you incorporate and introduce the message of 3E Love into your curriculum or programs – not just during IDOA, but throughout the rest of the year, as well:
LEARN online HOW TO BE INCLUSIVE!
We’re here to make sure that ALL kids are welcomed and included in every classroom, camp, program, and event. We can help! Browse the KIT Academy store to enroll in courses or, purchase an annual All-Access Pass to receive full access to all of our best-in-class inclusion training and behavior support resources for one full year.
Free Download: The Inclusion Checklist for Programs
We’ll help you create a more inclusive classroom with the Inclusion Checklist. This 16-category tool will help you assess your class and program in order to start, improve, or excel at serving kids with and without disabilities.
Disability Inclusion Resources
KIT is a leader in the field of disability inclusion training. Our resource center includes checklists, videos, tip sheets and other critically important information you need to make schools more inclusive for all children. KIT materials are practical and applicable for all sorts of organizations and professionals that work with children.
Since 1997, KIT has provided disability inclusion and behavior support training for over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders in more than 600 organizations. KIT training has reached all 50 states and 15 countries. Our work creates a “want to, can do, will do” attitude in staff. We give them the tools and support to ensure that every child who enrolls will be meaningfully included.
Contact KIT and our experienced staff will work with you to create a program that meets your specific needs!