Learning Disability Pride returning with invitation to ‘Do Your thing’
and live on Freeview channel 276
It will be held on Saturday, June 24 to raise awareness of learning disability and will commence with a noon carnival parade from Taylor’s Avenue along the seafront to Carrickfergus Castle.
There will be family fun activities in the castle car park, including live entertainment hosted by Cate Conway. The line-up features dance and drama performances from learning disability organisations and music from local band This Way Up. Other activities will included arts and crafts, face painting, bouncy castles and a petting farm.
The packed programme under the theme ‘Do Your Thing’ will also feature market stalls, food vendors and workshops such as drumming and drama.
Learning Disability Pride is organised by the Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club and supported by Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Mencap, Kilcreggan Homes, AEL, Sense NI, Caring Breaks, Positive Futures, Praxis Care, My Community, Cedar Foundation and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Tanya Rankin, a member of Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club, said: “I love Learning Disability Pride, when I was walking in the parade it made me feel proud. My family walked with me and everybody celebrated people with a learning disability. I can’t wait until June, I’m going to do my thing”.
The 2023 celebrations will follow on from the success of events held in May 2017 and June 2019.
Thomas Haighton, leader of Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club, said: “We only expected around 1,000 people to attend our first event and we were blown away by the crowds which exceeded 5,000. This was a mixture of people with a learning disability, their families and supporters as well as many people without a connection to learning disability who just wanted to enjoy the day and show their support.
"We are hoping even more people will come along this year to celebrate with us; we have already had expressions of interest from as far as Donegal which is a fantastic result from what started as a small idea.”
The event is being held during Learning Disability Week (June 19 to 25 ) and this year’s theme, ‘Art & Creativity’, will encourage participating organisations to design costumes and banners for use on the day.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said: “I am delighted to hear that Learning Disability Pride will return to Carrickfergus this year. It has become an unmissable event for people with a learning disability, as well as their family, friends, carers, support workers and the rest of the community.
"I encourage everyone to take part this year and ‘Do Your Thing’ to celebrate the achievements and contributions to society made by those with a learning disability.”
There can be many barriers for people with a learning disability and their families to attend events. This includes a lack of accessible toileting facilities, so Accessoloo will be present on the day.
Learning Disability Pride is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund. Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland director of the fund, said: “We are delighted to support Learning Disability Pride through a £20,000 grant, helping bring people together, raising awareness, reduce stigma and celebrate the achievement of people with a learning disability in our communities.”