What’s the difference between Awareness and Acceptance?

This month, October, is Down syndrome Awareness Month. After having been with GiGi’s for almost four months now, my eyes and my heart have been opened to a new level.  Since being here, I have been more aware of the amazing individuals and their families that have walked through the doors at GiGi’s Playhouse – Milwaukee. I love reading about them on social media and seeing their faces (in person and virtually). We need more of this, not just in October 🙂 I’m am thankful that I have found such a loving caring community in my city.

As a former special education teacher and administrator, and a mom of two very different kids, I have learned so much. However, we all need reminders as everything takes on new and different meaning as we cycle through life. Today was an especially rough morning for me and my daughter  (she doesn’t have Down syndrome, but had a rare birth defect called Encephalocele which has primarily affected her cognitive functioning and ability to regulate emotions). I needed some reflection and coffee, so dove into some older files. Below is one of my findings and I wanted to share it with all of you. I thought I was living the statements below in my life, but as I look for more ways to support Violet and the rest of my family, I hope you will all join me in acting upon these practices in our journey. I know that we can all work together to make this world a better and more accepting place for everyone. Here’s to more; more love, more support, more kindness, more positivity, more understanding, and more action!
*Awareness is to know that you have a classmate with a disability
*Acceptance is inviting him or her to hang out with you
*Awareness is simply knowing someone who has some kind of challenge
*Acceptance is engaging in a real conversation with them
*Awareness is seeing someone with a disability do something you maybe didn’t expect
*Acceptance is telling them they are awesome, cheering them on or working together with them
*Awareness is saying you have a friend with a disability
*Acceptance is truly being a good friend to them
*Awareness is appreciating the gifts and challengers of those with different abilities
*Acceptance is volunteering your time to help
*Awareness is liking this post
*Acceptance is sharing it
*Awareness does not imply doing anything different
*Acceptance is taking action
Join the Generation G movement! Be accepting. Be generous. Be kind.
Sara Van Deurzen
Site Coordinator
GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee

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