Disability Pride parade launches Kaleidoscope Festival

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Chester’s second Disability Pride Parade took place today launching a week of events celebrating the talents and raising awareness of the 14.1 million people living in the UK with a disability. The event , which first took place in 2019 is organised by Storyhouse is only one of two in the country alongside Brighton.

Pic: Dial West Cheshire

Participants in the parade gathered on Eastgate street with 150 people present on the march , underneath the Eastgate clock and through the city to the open air theatre in Grosvenor Park. Organisations represented in the parade included Live! Cheshire and Dial West Cheshire, Dee Banks special school , Vivo care, The Wave project and Chester Link.

Artist Gemma Lees summed up the spirit of the occasion with a poem she recited at the start of the parade:

“We’re here on Disability Pride Day and you better believe we have got a lot to say. Lets acknowledge that we were locked away in the past, all those years of mistreatment lets put them on blast. They call us “sub normal” in a bedlam for kids, they sterilised ,infantilised and treated us with tricks...

Equality doesn’t mean that everybody gets the same, it means we get what we all need to equally play the game. Raising us up has never shoved the rest down, never took away anyone’s pride by making us proud.

Dont try to say our benefits and services aren’t fair because we started on this daily race way back there. We know our place aint where we’ve been. Embrace us because we’re making the unseen seen. We’ve had enough, we’re gonna ruffle feathers and make a fuss, dont doubt us, discont us, dont legislate without us if you want to know about us, maybe try and chat. We don’t fit into your boxes, we’re far too fabulous for that. Not a monolith, we all exist in our won unique ways, so lets celebrate what makes is unique this disability pride day.”

Storyhouse’s communities manager Nicola Haigh commented “I’m really proud the city is leading from the front. The parade is all about the need for more understanding and less ignorance. I’m absolutely thrilled that the festival is able to return for this summer promising a truly kaleidoscopic range of fantastic events to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Following the parade participants had lunch in the park and were treated to a series of performances including Harriet Dyer, a mental health activist and comedian and Paul Paul Wilshaw from Leeds playhouse and We mind the gap, who performed a speech about learning disability representation in the arts. There was also a dance performance by Huddersfield based Dark House Theatre. The ensemble of eight are a mix of actors with learning disabilities and non – learning disabled actors. Their mission is for people with learning disabilities to be given the equality of opportunity to train and work in the performing arts.

Kaleidoscope continues on Tuesday, July 12 when Storyhouse’s Garret Theatre is the venue for a 60-minute Sing Along Songs from Stage and Screen. This will be followed by Merseyside disability theatre company RAWD’s Flashmob in a bob! Anyone aged 14 years over who identifies as disabled can take part in learning a Greatest Showman-themed routine and then take over the Storyhouse Kitchen as part of a fun-filled flashmob at 2.30pm.

Events throughout the week include a quiz, film screenings, a makers market and a silent disco. For the full programme visit https://www.storyhouse.com/kaleidoscope

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