Last Sunday, thousands of people, including students from The Viscardi Center and The Henry Viscardi School participated in a parade up Broadway in New York City to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the American For Disabilities Act (ADA).
In addition to students, administrators, teachers and employees of the Albertson-based institution, along with their families and friends, marched and rolled in the parade. The Viscardi students were joined by employees from JetBlue Airways, a company that is focusing its efforts on serving passengers with disabilities, while increasing its hiring of people with disabilities. In all, up to 100 students and administrators from Viscardi took part in the parade.
“I was proud to participate in this year’s Disability Pride Parade. I feel it was important for us to march just to bring our story to the forefront. I think it was important for New Yorkers to see the disabled community band together and be recognized as a viable part of society,” said Joe Slaninka, the school’s wheelchair basketball coach.
“Our family was so honored to be able to participate in the first ever Disability Pride Parade,” added Debbie Cuevas, parent of a Viscardi School student. “Ever since our son, Dylan, now 11 was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) we have always tried to open doors for him that otherwise would be closed due to his disability. Watching him ride his wheelchair and advocate for himself to make our city more accessible and have less boundaries was truly a proud moment for our entire family. We couldn’t help feel the strong commitment of the two organizations we were marching with. The Viscardi Center and JetBlue are two organizations who have made great strides in breaking down barriers for people with disabilities. We look forward to marching in future Disability Pride Parades to show people in New York City that our needs are just as important as anyone else’s.,” Debbie Cuevas, parent of a student at Henry Viscardi School.
According to police, about 3,000 New Yorkers participated in the parade, including Mayor Bill DeBlasio. Also on hand was former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who played an important role in the bill’s passage, which took place in 1989, during the administration of George H. W. Bush.
To mark the anniversary, disability pride parades were held other cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia. According to published reports, city officials said the parade would become an annual event, one that Viscardi students look forward to participating in.