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Chicago parade is oldest in U.S. for disability pride

Wed, Jul 25, 2012

Disability Pride Parade

Chicago’s 9th annual Disability Pride Parade will step off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21 from Plymouth Court at Van Buren. This corner was given honorary street designation as “Disability Pride Parade Way” at the June 27 Chicago City Council meeting through an ordinance sponsored by Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd ward). The parade will proceed north on Dearborn to the Daley Center.

Chicago’s parade is the oldest such event in the United States, although there are now similar events in U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Seattle, Houston and Portland, OR. Globally, there are disability pride parades in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary, Canada; in Seoul, Korea; Dublin, Ireland and Oslo, Norway.
True to the spirit of a “pride parade,” its mission has been about self-acceptance and changing public perception. Participants use wheelchairs, walk or ride in floats; this is “not a movement that wants sympathy,” The ACTivist magazine noted in 2004.

Recognized as an emerging leader in cross-disability civil rights movement, Sarah Triano founded the first parade with prize money from the 2002 Paul G. Hearne/American Association of People with Disabilities Award. “Disability Pride represents a rejection of the notion that our physical, sensory, mental, and cognitive differences from the non-disabled standard are wrong or bad in any way and is a statement of our self-acceptance, dignity and pride,” she wrote in the Encyclopedia of Diversity.”

Following the parade, the entertainment line-up will include:

• THE ARTS OF LIFE BAND – A collaborative project between disabled and non-disabled artists in the Chicago area, the band plays danceable party music with a rock influence.

• COLLECTIVE SOLE – An inclusive dance troupe for teens and young adults of all abilities who enjoy contemporary, creative and aerobic movement choreographed to popular music, their mission is to make dancing universal, invigorating, inspirational and accessible to everyone.

• JESSE WHITE TUMBLERS – This tumbling group is composed of inner-city kids who commit to staying away from gangs, drugs and alcohol and to remaining in school and maintaining a “C” average or above. The group has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Bermuda, and Tokyo.

• PRAETORIAN “SIGN LANGUAGE” COMMUNITY CHOIR – Praetorian is a church of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing people who believe in becoming leaders and spreading the gospel to the community, the nation and the world. The choir brings song, energy and smiles to the parade gathering each year.

• EDEN – The local band started out in a guitar class in 2009 led by Tony Esposito and David Johnson through Eden’s diverse activity programming. Over the years, drummers, singers and other instrumentalists were added to form a rock band. The band is now composed of about 16 residents and four staff members.

Colleen Connolly, StreetWise Editorial Intern

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