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Disability Pride in Davis

Hi.  I’m Walking Bob and one of the joys of this blog is being able to highlight the people, places and events that make Davis a special place to live.  I experienced one of those events, along with about 125 other people, at the July 31 Disability Pride Parade in Central Park, celebrating twenty years of the Americans with Disability Act.

With support from almost twenty different government and private agencies and individuals, the event kicked off to the sound of the Beatles “Revolution” near the Carousel, then proceeded down to the Bicycle Museum and around the Farmer’s Market.  Participants chanted things like “Hey, Hey, ADA, accessibility is here to stay,”  or simply reminded the crowds that “We are the people in your neighborhood.”  The people walked, rode or were pushed in wheelchairs, used walkers or special bicycles or walked with service dogs, but they all made it around the parade route and came back to listen to proclamations, speakers and entertainers for a couple of hours.

Parade Grand Marshal, Sara Granda, Emcee Will Arnold (shown at right) and Emcee Natalie Wormeli (shown below) all face physical challenges.  However, the campaign manager for Rochelle Swanson’s successful city council race, the ACLU attorney and the special assistant to the Chief Counsel for the Department of Health Services haven’t let their disabilities define or limit them.  That attitude was shared by many of the speakers like Pamela Kay Walker, chanting above.

Many current and former elected officials were on hand to read proclamations or remind the audience of the things that their agencies have contributed to disability awareness and support. Sue Greenwald read a city proclamation, Rochelle Swanson spoke of what the city has done, and Mariko Yamada spoke of disability rights as “a slice of the apple pie of justice.”   Helen Thomson and Gina Daleiden were there to express support, as were representatives of other officials who couldn’t attend.  Former Mayor Ken Wagstaff was helping behind the scenes.

Duval Speck provided a short but powerful set of their own songs, along with a defiant “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” to an audience that knew their music well. Even the sign language interpreters, Kathy Jackson and Lisa-Marie Vendetti, got into the spirit of the moment signing the lyrics to the songs with enthusiasm that matched the performance.

Speakers addressed the changes that have occurred, including the ramps on side walks, handicapped parking spaces, access ramps into buildings and the right to bring service dogs into places where dogs wouldn’t normally be allowed.  They also acknowledged problems that still deny access or make people with disabilities come in the side door or get relegated to poor seating at events.  They commented that having the law with you doesn’t always change the hostility or negative attitudes of some people.

As the speakers, including those who were disabled in accidents, pointed out, being physically disabled is one minority group that any of us could join tomorrow. Maybe well-supported demonstrations of the talents and pride of those with challenges that society sees as disabilities can help us all keep working to uphold and strengthen the laws and to help shift residual negative attitudes.

Supporters of this event included Californians for Disability Rights, the City of Davis, Clarity Sound, the Davis Enterprise, the Davis Senior Center, General Technologies, Hear! Here!, NAMI-Yolo, Out of Sight, Paws with a Cause, PRIDE Industries, Special Olympics Team Davis, and Yolo People First.

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