Learning Disability Pride want you to celebrate learning disability and ‘Do Your Thing’

Learning DisabLearning Disability Pride want you to celebrate learning disability and ‘Do Your Thing’ility Pride is back in Carrickfergus on Saturday 22 June to celebrate and raise awareness of learning disability. This free event will start with a carnival parade leaving from Taylors Avenue at 12pm and travelling via Marine Highway to Carrickfergus Castle.

From 1-5pm there will be family fun day activities in the Castle Car Park, including live entertainment hosted by Q Radio DJ Stephen Clements. The line-up includes dance and drama performances from learning disability organisations and music from local band This Way Up. There will be activities taking place in the car park, including arts and crafts, face painting, bouncy castles and a petting farm. There will also be lots of information and market stalls, food vendors, and workshops such as
drumming and drama to ‘give it a go’ and try something new, in keeping with the event’s theme, ‘Do Your Thing’.

May McFettridge leading the 2017 Learning Disability Pride parade.

Karl Wilson, a member of Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club, said: “I love this year’s theme. It means everyone can do their own thing, the things they’re good at or enjoy. Some people might think their ‘thing’ is painting, and someone else’s might be singing, but there’s freedom to be
yourself. We can all come together and feel proud of who we are, whether we have a learning disability or not.”Learning Disability Pride is organised by the Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club in partnership with Mencap and supported by other organisations including Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Kilcreggan Homes, AEL, Sense and Caring Breaks. Following on from the success of the first event, held in Carrickfergus in May 2017, this year is set to be even bigger and better than before.

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Thomas Haighton, leader of Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club, said: “We only expected around 1,000 people to attend our first event, and we were blown away by the crowds which exceeded 5,000. This was a mixture of people with a learning disability, their families and supporters as well as many people without a connection to learning disability who just wanted to enjoy the day and show their support. We are hoping even more people will come along this year to celebrate with us, and we are aware of other Learning Disability Pride events taking place across England and Wales, which is a fantastic result from what started as a small idea.”

The events are taking place during Learning Disability Week, an annual awareness week from 17 to 23 of June. This year’s theme is ‘inclusion is sport’, and so there will be an inclusive sports arena at Marine Gardens taking place alongside the main event. This will provide an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy games and sports together. This part of Learning Disability Pride is facilitated by organisations including Ulster Rugby, Forest Fitness NI and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

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Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Maureen Morrow said: “We are delighted that the team behind Learning Disability Pride are bringing their event back to Carrickfergus for a second time. There will be people attending from across the country and possibly further afield and it is a great opportunity for all to showcase Carrickfergus as a friendly and inclusive town for all to live, shop, enjoy leisure activities and work. We are all very excited and hope everyone has a fantastic day out in our borough.”

Host organisation Carrickfergus Senior Gateway taking part in the 2017 Learning Disability Pride parade.

There can be many barriers for people with a learning disability and their families to attend events and be included in society. This includes a lack of accessible toileting facilities, and so Mobiloo Ireland will be present on the day. With an electric hoist and changing table, as well as a toilet and
washbasin, the Mobiloo enables wheelchair users with the most complex requirements to get out and about to enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else at public events. There will also be various sensory zones and performances that include use of Makaton to ensure those with non-verbal communication can get involved.

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap Northern Ireland said: “Mencap are very proud to be partnering with Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Club in planning this fantastic family event. People with a learning disability in Northern Ireland need to be listened to, valued equally and fully included in society. Raising awareness and changing attitudes with events like Learning Disability Pride is a fun way to do it.“

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Learning Disability Pride is an event for everyone, so whether you have a learning disability or not, you are welcome to come and join the fun and celebrations in Carrickfergus on Saturday 22 June. For more information, find us on Facebook or Twitter, check out or website or get in touch with Carrickfergus Senior Gateway or Mencap NI.

Learning Disability Pride is funded and supported by the National Lottery Community Fund and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Further details on how you can get involved can be found on Facebook, twitter or at www.learningdisabilitypride.org

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