Wink is Disability Awareness

Dare to Wink

It’s not difficult to interact with a child who has a disability,
and the Wink sign language goes a long way to making a connection.

Our Mission

Our mission is to create disability awareness across the world.  We are branding “Wink” and its American sign language gesture as a nonverbal, nonintrusive sign of support. With a Wink, you can convey …

that you care
they are not invisible
their courageous example has touched your heart
“I get you”

How to Wink

Several members of the Brown University Women’s Hockey team show us how to ‘Wink.’

What is Wink?

When many of us encounter a child with a disability, we tend to look away or alter our path — simply because we don’t know what to say or do.

We mean no harm, but our actions could make the child or their family feel invisible or ignored.

Conversely, when we want to extend support, we are often concerned about how our actions will be perceived: “I don’t want to appear insensitive, but I don’t want to infringe on the family’s privacy,” or “I don’t want them to think I’m staring.”

Action, not inaction

Such thoughts can result in us opting to do nothing. What remains in the wake of doing nothing is an obvious, uncomfortable, and unproductive void.

So, instead of living with inaction, discomfort, and awkwardness, we’ve launched Wink. This awareness-raising campaign promotes the nonverbal, nonintrusive action of a “wink,” as spoken in American Sign Language, as a branded and recognized way to convey to children with disabilities — and their families — that their courageous example has touched our hearts.

A small gesture

Wink is a simple gesture of support. Please watch the documentary, and our demonstration video on our “mission” page.

Thanks for supporting this campaign. More importantly, thanks for supporting these incredible children and families.

Who We Serve

Wink is intended to serve children and families who live with disabilities of any kind. UNICEF estimates 600 million people are born with or acquire a disability in their lifetime. Twenty-five percent of them — 150 million — are children.

Each year in the US alone, 11,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer and 10,000 kids are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Currently in the US, 80,000 individuals live with cerebral palsy, 70,000 live with spina bifida, and 300,000 children have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. According to CNN Health (April 2013), one in 50 kids is on the Autism spectrum. When you consider how the daily lives of their families and friends are impacted, the numbers are overwhelming.

Should our society consider expanding its perspective relative to these children and their families?

Do we realize the daily challenges that face these children and their families?

In a social setting, are you comfortable when you see someone with a challenging illness or disability?

Are we properly honoring their courageous example when we stare at them, avoid them, or make them feel invisible?

There is an emotional conflict in many of us — not because we don’t feel the tug on our heart, but because there is no easy conduit to show our support. We’re afraid to stare, yet embarrassed if we do.

There is an obvious opportunity to bridge that gap. So we’re promoting Wink as the nonverbal way to convey our feeling of support. In our fast-paced life, Wink provides a conduit to be “human” and demonstrate our care and support.

Wink does not accept any charitable donations; our goal is to create awareness. We encourage you to give to your local charities or those that have touched your heart. Thank you.

Documentary Video

Watch Wink parents share their real life stories; you’ll be touched by their remarkable stories about what’s involved with raising a child with a disability.

Encouragement

There exists in all of us the power to make our world a nicer place. We are very fortunate that these world-renowned and well-respected partners support Wink’s mission. Together, we are making a measurable difference.

A letter from the White House

The White House
August 11, 2014

Mr Shawn Edward Fennell
East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Dear Shawn,
Thank you for sharing your story. Each day I am inspired by messages of hope and determination I receive from people across our country, and I appreciate you sharing your story.

From my earliest days as a community organizer, through my work as President, I have found that Americans can achieve extraordinary things when we work together. Each of us has a role to play in creating a better world for future generations. I trust that you will take pride in your contributions, and I hope your service moves others to serve as well.
Thank you, again, for writing.I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama

September 15, 2014

Dear Mr. Fennell,

Thank you for contacting my office to inform me of your W;)nk campaign to raise disability awareness. I commend you for these efforts, and am very impressed by your creativity, specifically using the American Sign Language sign for wink to convey support of children with disabilities, and their families across the nation, and beyond.

Your distinctive approach of the wink is certainly something that will resonate with individuals and will assist in spreading awareness of the critical issues that many face today, and emphasizes that we can all play a role in enhancing the lives of our neighbors and community members. Again , thank you for creating such a powerful message of disability awareness.

Sincerely, Jim Langevin Member of Congress

A letter from the Congress


Statements of Support

Larry Luchino
President/CEO
Boston Red Sox

“The Boston Red Sox salute Wink’s effort to show support for those who face disabilities or illnesses. Wink played a key role in this year’s Disability Awareness Night here at Fenway park, and we look forward to seeing this message continue to spread. A Wink can go a long way, and we’re proud to support this important initiative to expand disability awareness in our entire community. Thank you, Wink.”

Ron Francis
Executive VP/GM
Carolina Hurricanes

“The Carolina Hurricanes were proud to be a part of the launch of Wink, and to support the organization’s efforts to make life better for children with disabilities.”

Tom Wilson
President
Olympia Ent.

“Wink is a wonderful cause. As members of the sports and entertainment community, the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Red Wings Foundation are pleased to support Wink’s efforts by playing their inspiring message of inclusion at one of our home games.”

Bob Sweeney
Executive Director
Boston Bruins

“The Boston Bruins and the Boston Bruins Foundation would like to acknowledge Wink for all their outstanding achievements for those who face disabilities. We were honored to play their message during one of our home games this season at the TD Garden in support of Wink and all the great work that their organization does in the community.”

Wink is a suspenseful and action-packed story that follows journalism student Angie Clarke as she investigates mysterious and supernatural events, which lead her to realize her destiny.

Author Shawn Fennell invites readers to share Angie’s poignant journey as very special “helpers” guide her on what turns out to be a bumpy road with unexpected twists and turns. After overcoming many obstacles, she learns new life lessons and evolves from being a sympathizer to an empathizer — qualities she soon realizes are worlds apart.

A truly inspirational work of fiction that has spiritual overtones, Wink will appeal to readers of all ages. A story of one girl’s discovery, it celebrates faith, hope, love, understanding, courage, and, in the end, awareness.

Fennell’s goal is to effect change in how we as a society support those children and their families who are stricken with life-threatening illnesses or who live with a disability. He wants to create a conduit, a symbol of support that is recognized as, “Hey…I get you, I understand.”