Having a disability shouldn’t prevent anyone from having a great time.
This Saturday at Soldotna Creek Park, the folks at Frontier Community Services and the Independent Living Center will be hosting the peninsula’s second annual Disability Pride Celebration. From noon to 4 p.m., people can visit the park to enjoy free food, face painting, live music from local band Hot Mess and a number of games and activities that will be accessible to all, regardless of ability.
The event is aimed at connecting the community with those who live with disabilities for a day of fun and freedom for everyone.
“We really just want people to come hang out and see that people with disabilities, they’re just regular people, man,” organizer Nikki Marcano said. “We want the day to be as inclusive as possible.”
Marcano, employment specialist for Frontier, and Maggie Winston, systems advocate for the Independent Living Center, organized the event for the first time last year. Marcano said she was originally planning the event on her own and, about three weeks in, decided to reach out to Winston for help.
“I called Maggie and before I could even finish my sentence, she was in,” Marcano said.
One of the activities that was a success last year — a giant slip-and-slide made out of kiddie pool sent down a rubber runway — will be returning for the event.
Last year, Winston, who is unable to move her arms or legs, shared the ride with Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, and another friend who uses a wheelchair.
In addition to the games and activities from last year’s Disability Pride Celebration, Marcano and Winston said that they have a special surprise in store for this year’s event but kept a tight lid on the details.
Winston said that the event is a great way to remove the negative connotation of disabilities, replacing the notion that these individuals need to be “fixed” with the idea that they can and should embrace their disability as part of their identity.
“I identify with my disability just as much as I identify as a woman or a mother,” Winston said. “And even though I acquired it later in life, it doesn’t make me feel sad or broken.”