October also marks the first ever Disability Pride Month in New Jersey.
TRENTON, NJ - More than 600 people with disabilities, supporters, friends and organizations representing a wide variety of services throughout NJ will be converge in downtown Trenton for the NJ Disability Pride Parade and Celebration. The event will feature a variety of entertainers, all of whom have disabilities. These include folk musician Johnny Crescendo, singer, Mano Hashimoto, a blind dancer and choreographer who has performed internationally and recording artist Lachi. Drummer and dancer Sidiki Conte, from Guinea, West Africa will bring his brand of music to the event as will crowd favorite, Exceptional Dance Team, a troupe made up entirely of children with autism, will be returning for a third year.
The day kicks off with an address by Charles Dodge, the NJDPP 2015 Parade Marshal on the steps of the NJ State House. This will be followed by a parade to the site of the celebration on East Lafayette Street, between South Broad and South Warren. There the Mayor of Trenton, the Honorable Eric Jackson, will give the official welcoming remarks.
Also addressing the crowd throughout the day will be Acting Commissioner of the NJ Department of Human Services, Elizabeth Connolly and representatives from NJ Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, the state’s independent living centers.
The NJ Division on Disability Services will have a cooking demonstration at the health and wellness pavilion. There will also be a bubble artist, a photo booth, and a drum demonstration by Pat Gesualdo, founder of Drums and Disabilities (DAD)... and plenty of free giveaways.
The purpose of the NJ Disability Pride Parade is to celebrate pride within the disability community and to promote the belief that disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while generating national awareness for the disability community.
Recently, Governor Christie issued a proclamation in support of the NJ Disability Pride Parade and ACI, designating October as Disability Pride Month. In the proclamation Governor Christie “ ….urged all residents to continue to honor the individuality, dignity and contributions of people with disabilities.”
The free event is a grassroots effort organized and hosted by the Alliance Center for Independence (ACI). ACI is a 501(c)(3) community-based, grassroots organization that supports and promotes independent living for people with disabilities in Middlesex, Union and Somerset counties.
"This is the one event in New Jersey that the disability community can get together and just have a day to celebrate pride in each other," says Carole Tonks, Executive Director of the Alliance Center for Independence, and chief organizer of the event.
The event is run entirely by volunteers and relies solely on sponsorship, exhibitors, donations and in-kind services. Sponsors include Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory in Jersey City, Herrs, NJ Division on Disability Services, Drake’s Cakes, Community Access Unlimited, the NJ Association for Centers of Independent Living, Bank of Woodbridge, NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities, Association and Easter Seals.