Not all heroes wear capes; some wear sunflower lanyards | by Kenzy Hesham

August 27, 2021
Kenzy Hesham

Snooty stares, judgement, pain and fear are just some of the hurdles that a person, who has a hidden disability, has to face every day. Thankfully, sunflower lanyards are shining a little light in the darkness as they are designed to show that the wearer has a hidden disability (autism, dementia, anxiety, visual or hearing impairments, chronic illness and etc.) and may need a little extra help, support or time.

Gaining popularity, the sunflower lanyards have been implemented in several major UK airports, supermarkets, railway stations and sports venues. In supermarkets, a helping hand is lent by opening a new checkout lane for the wearer or assisting with finding shopping items.  As well as providing access to priority lanes at security and border control, Manchester Airport has a Sunflower Room, where wearers can escape the kerfuffle and crowds in the terminal.

Photo credit: Spinning in Circles

“I’m proud to wear my ribbon because it means I am able to take a priority seat without feeling guilty about it and getting dirty look,” explained Jade Ellamea (a 30 year old mom with chronic pain) on her Instagram.“I’m hoping it makes my trips with Franklin a little more bearable. Franklin’s condition is invisible, and unfortunately, he can be judged and mislabelled as a naughty or unruly child by strangers,” mentioned Franklin’s mom. Franklin is non-verbal and has autism.

As much as I love this campaign, it pains me that we have resorted to wearing ribbons and other items to say I need your compassion and understanding today. This is what stopping us from judging others and not a simple understanding of the idea that everyone faces invisible obstacles! We have a job to carry out. We need to spread awareness of hidden disabilities, and we need to implement the sunflower lanyard system in Egypt. I hope that the next time you leave your house, you remember to show kindness and patience to the people around you because you may just put a smile on a silent warrior’s face.

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