On Saturday, July 27, the 7th annual Disability Pride Madison will be held at Tenney Park from noon to 5:00.
Disability Pride Madison is a nonprofit organization that works to build a cross-disability community and celebrate people with disabilities. Event organizer Kate Moran describes Disability Pride as “about being proud of a long historical tradition of people with disabilities who have fought for inclusion and made contributions to this world.”
Moran acknowledges the similarity to another “pride” celebration.
“We often get the question,‘is this about gay disabled people?’ and some of us are, but it’s a parallel thing to gay pride,” Moran said. “Gay pride is giving people a place to celebrate and we’re doing the same thing with disability pride — giving people a place to come together with the greater community to celebrate ourselves.”
Chicago is coming up on their 16th annual Disability Pride Parade; after years of people traveling from Madison to Chicago for this event, it was decided that Madison should have its own Disability Pride, which started back in 2012. Disability Pride Madison always holds their event the last weekend of July, after the anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act 29 years ago. The first year Madison held the event there was a turn out of about 250 people, and this year they are anticipating between 600 and 700.
“The first year we held Disability Pride we knew it was going to be a success and it keeps growing every year,” Moran said.
This year’s event will have 45 exhibitors, many of whom are artists, writers, and people with local businesses, all of which have disabilities.
One of the headlining artists, wheelchair dancer Onikho, will be performing the night before the event. Milwaukee-based blues artist Jonny T-Bird will perform at the event. There will be several activities from the Madison Children’s Museum, including adaptive yoga and stories, as well as six ASL interpreters on hand.
Several workshops will be held during the event, one of which will be hosted by Downtown Madison Incorporated, Access to Independence, and City of Madison Disability Rights and Services Program. They are working to formulate a plan for increasing disabled accessibility and inclusion in Downtown Madison. Another major workshop, Beyond Challenges, is held by Folajogun Akinlami. Fola is a polio survivor from Nigeria, a Nelson Mandela scholar, and the founder of Beyond Challenges; the organization works to lift up people with disabilities in Nigeria, as the country has just recently passed its first disability rights law. She’ll talk about her journey in fighting for people with disabilities and the cultural differences she’s experienced.
The festival is free and open to all, as it is important to Disability Pride to allow everyone the opportunity to celebrate the history and accomplishments of all people. Free lunch will be served, thanks to the partnership will Festival Foods, because 38% of people in Dane County have food insecurity, Moran said. Disability Pride works to make sure everyone feels welcome and secure at this celebratory event.