By Daniel Smrokowski | Bugle Columnist
On July 23, members of the community will come together to celebrate the 13th annual Disability Pride Parade in Chicago. This year’s theme is “Continuing the Drive: Inclusion Matters.”
The parade is a day for the community to come together and celebrate those with and without special needs. It’s a day where we can come together to include those of us with differences. It’s a day where we can accept people for who they are and change attitudes to appreciate the uniqueness in each person.
Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Disability Pride Parade with my alma mater, Roosevelt University, marching with the Academic Success Center’s disability services office.
In addition to our group, there were approximately 60 other organizations from access living groups to other therapeutic and supportive organizations for those with special needs walking in the parade.
As our group marched in the parade, we all wore bright green T-shirts with the words “Label Clothes, Not People” displayed on the front. On the back of our shirts was the letter “R” for Roosevelt University and “Academic Success Center.” I personally feel much gratitude towards Roosevelt and towards the embracing support of the Academic Success Center during my years as a student and beyond.
The Disability Pride Parade was “a great day of community, ability and joyfulness for who people are,” said Nancy Litke, director of the Academic Success Center at Roosevelt University. “To celebrate the lives of people with and without disabilities but mostly to showcase the ability side and how we are a better world with more diversity.”
As a community, we can truly come together and be proud for the abilities and joy that those of us with special needs bring to our community.
This year, let us remember how as a community we can celebrate the abilities that those of us with special needs bring to the world.
Join us at this year’s Disability Pride Parade to celebrate inclusion in our community. The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. July 23 at 401 S. Plymouth Court in Chicago.
Daniel Smrokowski was born three-and-a-third months premature and was diagnosed with learning disabilities and a severe language disorder. He is an Athlete and Global Messenger with Special Olympics Illinois on the Southeast Association for Special Parks and Recreation team. Daniel is the founder of Special Chronicles nonprofit new media company, a pioneering network that gives respect and voice to people with special needs. Come join us at www.SpecialChronicles.com.