Marchers from Achilles International participate in the parade. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Disability Pride Parade celebrated five years this past Sunday, with participants marching from Madison Square to Union Square on Broadway. The parade featured members of the disability community, as well as activists and advocates, marching in costume and decorated wheelchairs.
Jazz pianist Mike LeDonne created Disability Pride Day in 2012 in honor of his daughter, Mary, who has a rare syndrome called Prader-Willi. LeDonne ran Disability Pride NYC as a nonprofit for four years before organizing the first parade on July 12, 2015, the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The parade on Sunday culminated in a festival in Union Square with booths featuring representatives from local non-profits and various city agencies offering services to New Yorkers with disabilities. Representatives from the Department of Transportation were showcasing the agency’s newest program, which is surveying the city’s pedestrian ramps and corners and mid-block crossings and pedestrian islands. The agency is prioritizing the completion of pedestrian ramp installations and upgrades pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Disability advocates and agency officials gathered in Union Square to celebrate the fourth Disability Pride Parade on Sunday afternoon. The parade traversed down Broadway from Madison Square Park to Union Square Park, where a festival was held in the afternoon.
City agencies such as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Office of Emergency Management and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and local hospitals such as NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Center had representatives along the route.
Nonprofits such as HeartShare Human Services and Gateway, organizations that works with children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Pathways, a school on the Upper East Side for impaired children, Achilles International, a nonprofit that provides assistance to athletes with disabilities, and others marched as well, with kids and other participants dressing up in costumes for the parade’s “creativity” theme. Representatives from the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s Challenger Division and Stuy Town’s Good Neighbor initiative, including ST/PCV general manager Rick Hayduk, marched towards the end of the parade.