“We will celebrate our disabilities!” That’s the message from Michael Holden, co-Director of Disability Pride 2014, an international event being held in Belfast this September.
Michael and founding partner Nigel Millen met with Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to officially launch the plans for Disability Pride Belfast 2014 which will be held on Saturday the 20th September and will include a colourful carnival through Belfast city centre followed by a concert and family market in the grounds of City Hall.
Being entertained by the “Dance Troupe Entertainment Factory”, aka, young members of the Down Syndrome Association who will be taking part in September, Michael added, “Disability Pride Belfast 2014 will bring people together to celebrate what they can do – to celebrate being equal to those who don’t have a disability – to celebrate that we are all able to do it.”
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said he was delighted to be involved in the launch. “The ethos of breaking down barriers and opening up opportunities to ensure a more inclusive society is one which I wholeheartedly endorse,” he said.
“I wish this venture every success and I am confident that the people of Belfast will support it and join in the celebrations”.
Disability Pride is an annual, international event, founded in America over ten years ago, which has never before been held in the UK or Ireland. Nigel Millen says this is just the beginning. “Each year a City is asked to join the celebrations so when Michael and I were invited to host a Disability Pride parade we believed Belfast would be the place to start. We’ve already been approached by people from all over Ireland, north, south and across the water who want to join us in Belfast, charities and individuals alike, so it’s terrific to officially launch today and registrations can start on www.disabilitypride.co.uk.”
Nigel added, “Disability Pride is an independently funded event, delivered by the generosity of like-minded people. It has been made possible by Belfast City Council permitting us to use the grounds of City Hall, and we have received great encouragement from many government departments such as NITB, so no doubt September is the first of many Disability Pride events.”
Michael says the same weekend as International Wheelchair Day (1st March) was an appropriate time to launch. “Over 17% of the people in Northern Ireland are living with a disability including over 200,000 adults. Almost two out of every five Northern Ireland homes (37%) include at least one person with a disability. Many of those, like me, are also parents, carers, employees. Not everyone has a visible disability or depends upon a wheelchair with many living with hearing and visual disabilities, mental and physical disabilities – but we have one thing in common – everyone of us will be cheering next September that we are, Able To Do It.”