Jazz Musicians and Advocates “Put On a Happy Face” in Forming NYC Disability Pride

New Accessiblity Icon

New York City is well known for its annual June Gay Pride March.  Other cities and localities have started Disability Pride days and parades.  So it seemed logical to Jazz pianist Mike LeDonne that his native city, the Big Apple, should have its own event, Disability Pride NYC.  The inspiration?  Mr. LeDonne’s daughter, Mary, who is 10 and has a rare genetic disability, Prader-Willi syndrome.

Mike, like many parents of a child with a developmental or physical disability, prefers to see his daughter in a positive light, for her abilities rather than disability.  It is evident that Mary has a strong sensibility for music.  Even though she is nonverbal, she clearly communicates what she likes and does not like musically when her father is composing.  Indeed, she has inspired much of Mike’s music.  A very nice article appeared in the New York Times.

This inspiration and admiration moved Mike to organize lively musical event that celebrates the many abilities of people with disabilities.  Thus Disability Pride NYC was born; the actual parade is scheduled for July 12, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Fundraising is under way.  The first major event is Jazz Legends for Disability Pride, scheduled for January 8, 7:00– 9:30 p.m. at The Quaker Friends Meeting Hall, 15 Rutherford Pl. which is near 15th Street and 3rd Ave.  Tickets can be purchased through Le Poisson Rouge.

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabities (MOPD), under the leadership of Victor Calise, has been working hard to secure the necessary permits and other logistical necessities.  Many people will know of Victor’s support for the new accessibility icon.

Although the promises of ADA have yet to be fully realized, Disability Pride NYC will go a long way to bringing about pride and awareness, two key ingredients to advocacy and self-advocacy… and real results.


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