Crowds gathered in Center City to advocate, celebrate Disability Pride

Hadas Kuznits
June 15, 2019 - 6:06 pm

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The city’s disability community was advocating for their rights at the 8th annual Disability Pride Philadelphia Parade & Celebration.

This year also marked the 20th anniversary of the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision. For those who don’t know what that is, Thomas Earle with Liberty Resources for Independent Living explained.

"That we have a civil right to live independently in the community like everybody else," he said.

Louis Olivio says Disability Pride is an important celebration.

"We came a long way, but we got a long way to go," he said.

Cassie Holdsworth says she's concerned that the rights for which the disability community has fought for are particularly vulnerable right now.

“Cuts to Medicaid, which could put more people in nursing homes,” she says, “The safety net — food stamps, affordable housing.”

Today’s march and celebration, which began at the Nation Constitution Center and ended at City Hall, was the culmination of Disability Pride Philadelphia Week.

So, what are some of the biggest challenges that disabled people face?

"In Philadelphia in particular, affordable, accessible housing is very scarce," Earle said. "As one of the older colonial cities, a lot of our homes are inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs, so it's very important as the city plans and develops new housing that we make as many accessible units as possible."

Keino Johnson, who depends on a wheelchair, tells us some of his biggest challenges.

"Accessibility to restaurants, accessibility to housing, just being accepted," he explained.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

Michelle McCandless explains what are some of the biggest misconceptions about people with disabilities?

"That we can't do and we always need somebody to do for us and that's not true," she said.

Earle also says 16% of Philadelphians live with some type of disability.

"Which is the highest population of people with disabilities in the country among major US cities," he adds.