Many people don’t know anything about 3E Love’s Wheelchair Heart. I discovered it a couple of years ago, because I spread awareness for cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and other disabilities, because I live daily with them myself.The movement was started by Stevie Hopkins in honour of his sister, Annie Hopkins, who passed away suddenly. Annie had a vision that disability awareness would spread throughout the world, and so she and Stevie created a symbol which is based on the traditional wheelchair symbol, so they went from this to this. The name itself comes from the three words beginning with E that are on the back of T-shirts, and printed on some of their merchandise. The words are: educate embrace power
Thanks to http://www.3love.com, the wheelchair symbol, and the effort to promote disability awareness, is recognised worldwide. Personally, I , as soon as I read the website, felt an affinity for their vision, and so supported them on social networks. Back in January 2014, I participated in their essay contest, which was held to mark 20 January, which was when Annie passed away. This day is celebrated every year, and you can buy 20 January merchandise on the website. To participate in the essay contest, I had to write about why I spread disability awareness, what the wheelchair heart symbol means to me, and other things. Here is my entry, written in January 2014:
So, it’s the new year, January , and a busy month for me, with family and friends’ birthdays , and a month of awareness and acceptance for differently – abled people as it’s the International Day of Acceptance , created by a company that has won my heart in recent years for what they stand for.
As many of you know by now, (and also for those who don’t) , I have been interested in , and supporting , 3E loves Wheelchair Heart for about a year now , and have lots of their merchandise . I think what they do is a great cause from a personal point of view , and am always looking for writing opportunities and love competitions , so I decided to enter the 3E loves Wheelchair Heart Essay Contest. So far, I have 25 votes after having submitted my vote 2 days ago. Here’s my full entry as the word limit was 5,000 characters, and once I start writing I can’t stop ! Please vote for me here by 26 JANUARY 2014 . http://bit.ly/1cj9Xys
I love 3E loves Wheelchair Heart. I heard about them through a friend years ago and got an email yesterday about an essay contest run by them and thought I’d participate. Here’s my entry. Please check out http://www.wishpond.com and vote for me to win! .
The brand name 3E loves wheelchair heart is now familiar to me and I first saw it mentioned in a friend’s post on Facebook a few years ago, so I shared the post, liked their Facebook page, followed them on twitter , and had a look at the website. As soon as I read what they stood for, I felt I had to “join the movement” so to speak . Around the time I found out about 3E loves wheelchair heart, I had already been spreading disability awareness of my own and other disabilities , educating and empowering every day through my Facebook page , Katherine Hayward my life with cerebral palsy , and I was pleased to have found out about another good cause to talk to my fans about , as , through my own experiences, I feel differently – abled people are not valued enough in society .
What I love about 3E loves wheelchair heart are not just the products (I’m a total shopaholic! ), but the whole message and the fact that 3E loves wheelchair heart strive for GLOBAL awareness and acceptance of disability , and not just on a country – wide scale, and that’s what very few organisations strive to do. Since I found out about the company, I have spread the word to let others know about it through both my Facebook and Twitter pages, I even have Pinterest boards for disability awareness and 3E love , and I “wear my heart” with pride as I’m the proud owner of various products: a hoodie, some badges, a tote bag, temporary tattoos, wheelchair decals and a necklace , all of which I love.
To me, the Wheelchair Heart symbol symbolizes unity, mutual support across geographical borders , and a great community : a place where I feel accepted, appreciated , and proud to be disabled. I have never been ashamed of my complex disabilities , but it makes me happy to be a part of the huge community and movement that is 3E love.
The symbol is simple but effective , and the heart being incorporated into the wheelchair wheel reaches out to people and says they’ll be wanted, accepted and appreciated by the organizers and everyone linked to 3E love.
I love 3E love as it’s unique in its approach , and not limited to reaching out to people with a specific type of disability . The common stereotype is that disabled people are all in wheelchairs (I am) , and that disability itself is always “visual”. Here , I’ll tell you a little about my story. I was born 32 years ago in the UK at 29 weeks . I had bilateral brain hemorrhages at birth leading to spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and severe eyesight difficulties. People see my wheelchair and glasses, but they don’t see the “hidden” aspects of my disabilities . They cannot tell just by looking at me that I have hydrocephalus, a neurological disability where the cerebrospinal fluid that normally protects the brain is at a very elevated level and I can’t control or absorb it so I have a ” shunt”, a pressure valve in my brain connected to a long thin tube going down to my abdomen to drain the excess CSF into my bloodstream.
They do not realise that without this I’d not be here to tell this story. They see my glasses and assume they correct my vision , but do not realise they do not and that their strong prescription is the only way I can see ANYTHING at all, and that I’m registered legally blind, just short of being registered totally blind.
This leads me to say I never seek to create a “sob story” about my life as a disabled person, but show people being disabled is no bad thing. That’s why I’ve created my page on Facebook Katherine Hayward my life with cerebral palsy and the Blogger blog of the same name . I became aware at a young age of the need to create a positive social model of disability , and knew I wanted to “do my bit” to help create that.
Disability as I know it as I learnt about it during my university studies, has two models: one which is the “Medical ” model of disability which states that the disability itself is a “problem” to fix , and doesn’t acknowledge that there’s a PERSON behind the disability and doesn’t “see past ” the disability itself. The other model is the social model of disability , which has taken the approach that it is Society itself which further disables people with their attitudes, be it being rude to us, or not wanting to include us and not making places people would use every day accessible to those of us with disabilities. I have been In my fair share of situations where I was discriminated against as a person with disabilities, and I have fought to change people’s perceptions to me and my disabilities ever since I was 7 years old. I have always favoured the Social Model, as we with disabilities have no fault we are disabled, and I for one (and I know so many people will identify with this) don’t enjoy being poked and prodded by a doctor as if I were a rare species , as whatever you do you can’t cure Cerebral Palsy or Hydrocephalus , and my eyesight difficulties are inoperable. Despite the “efforts ” of society to create “acceptance” , be it by changing terminology (for example, instead of saying “disabled person” , using “person with a disability” or “differently – abled”), this is not enough; we have to go down to the core and change attitudes completely but who knows how long that will take to happen, In the meantime I’ll keep raising awareness. Another thing Society does wrong is it assumes we are all incapable. Illiterate and not intelligent. I have a degree, speak Spanish and am in a relationship. Society needs to learn to treat us as the equals we really are and needs to realise disabled doesn’t mean ” different”, but “unique” .
Unfortunately, the essay contest was not held last year, and I’m not sure if it will continue to be held in the future. My essay was chosen as one of the 25 runners-up. There were three winners, each winning merchandise or a gift certificate. Over the years, I have been given merchandise as presents, or bought some myself. Here’s a little video I made to show my collection of 3E Wheelchair heart stuff.
If you want to support disability awareness, then find out more, see the full range of products and join the movement at www.3elove.com.