Chester has hosted its first ever Disability Pride Parade.
Over 100 people were part of the parade from Storyhouse to Chester Town Hall to celebrate human diversity and unique abilities. It was part of Kaleidoscope Festival – which is happening all week at Storyhouse celebrating Chester’s disabled communities.
Groups who took part included: Dorin Park School, Vivo Care Choices, Dial West Cheshire, The Arc, More Reasons to Dance Network, Canal Street Day Care Centre, Mulberry Day Care Centre, Petty Pool College and Live! Cheshire.
Poet and performer Jackie Hagan gave a rousing speech followed by Sara Harvey, a neurodiversity activist.
Sara said: “We need visible safe spaces, days and moments – one day these will be normal – but for now we will continue to fight for them!’
Kaleidoscope festival continues all week at Storyhouse, programmed in partnership with 23 charities and schools will present dance, drama, crafts and clubbing and inspirational personal stories, it promises to be a truly kaleidoscopic week.
Alex Clifton, artistic director, Storyhouse said: “Kaleidoscope celebrates diversity, inclusion and unique abilities. We have collaborated with 23 local disability-led charities, schools and organisations to programme a festival that celebrates the life and tells the stories of Chester’s creative community. Come and join us: sign, laugh, dance – be inspired!”
Programmed by the community: a special 80s disco tribute afternoon and a festival style club night complete with DJ, glitter and photo walls.
Paralympian Anna Jackson returns to the festival to interview author Ben Thexton (An Unexpected Journey) on the subject of mental health especially after life changing events. During 10 Minute Tales a panel of six adults will share their inspiring stories of living with autism.
Wrexham based author Andrew Edwards (I’ve Got a Stat For You: My Life With Autism) will return to talk candidly about his autism and will welcome visitor to Chester, Ros Blackburn who travels the world sharing her insight around her own experience of autism and the care and education practices she has observed.
During the week-long festival a range of performances will be taking place across Storyhouse, including a murder mystery performed by Wirral based company RAWD. An Open Mic afternoon featuring poet Jackie Hagan – who is passionate about making theatre and creativity accessible for everyone.
The library will be home to a raft of creative workshops with everything from Makaton Training, to sensory music-play.
Whilst, Storyhouse’s independent cinema will screen a selection of films exploring and celebrating disability, titles include: Eaten By Lions starring stand-up comedian Jack Carroll. And a selection of films about deafness will be screened from the UK’s leading short film and animation festival, Encounters. Plus, residents of supported living charity Chester Link voted for a special relaxed screening of 70s classic Grease.
Organisations taking part in the festival include: Cheshire Voluntary Action, Vivo Care Choices, The Arc, People’s Choice Group, Cheshire National Autistic Society, Live Cheshire, Cheshire Centre for Independent Living, RAWD, Dorin Park School and many more. All of the events have been requested and chosen by these organisations which makes this festival a true community collaboration.
The week will culminate in a main stage variety show – a fantastic opportunity for all of the family to celebrate the talents of unique people who often don’t often get seen on stage.