‘Something that they enjoy’

Bathshaeba Ward throws a bean bag at The Enrichment Center’s booth as Tiera Gravely looks on.

‘Something that they enjoy’
July 19
05:30 2018

Accessible Festival celebrates the disability community

The 14th annual Accessible Festival offered dancing, food, fun and education for people with all kinds of disabilities on Friday, July 13, at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Education Building.

There was a disco themed dance party, lip sync battle and dance off with professional DJs Tim Johnson and Chaka Smith of Tru Masters Inc. There was free food for the roughly 750 attendees that organizers were expecting. The event is held by the Winston-Salem Transit Authority, which provides transportation to people with disabilities with its handicap-accessible buses and Trans-Aid, an on-demand ride service for qualified individuals with disabilities. The festival was conceived of by WSTA Director Art Barnes as an outreach to those with disabilities and has continued to grow over the years.

“We do it because there are not many events that are targeted at the disability community, and we want to be a part of something that they enjoy,” said WSTA’s Tina Carson Wilkins.

There were a wide variety of service providers and organizations there with fun activities to attract attendees, including corn hole and crafts. Some organizations were devoted to disability services like The Enrichment Center, an arts-based program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The center’s Paul Marceau said that art can give them a sense of self identity and self confidence. It gives those with autism who are non-verbal a way to express themselves.

“We find art is a medium of communication for these individuals,” said Marceau.

The Enrichment Center also helps its clients find jobs suited to their abilities and skills. The artwork of participants is displayed at the center’s Gateway Gallery and the works are available for purchase, with the artists receiving a commission from those sales.

Other organizations were offering services that weren’t exclusively for those with disabilities, but could benefit that community like the Triad Chapter of Love on a Leash. The all-volunteer nonprofit provides visits from certified therapy pets for free. Owners go through training with their pets, who then get to provide comfort for others. Locally, the group has visited hospice patients, college students, police officers, seniors and others.

“Our animals sense when people need comfort and love,” said Danielle Rose, whose dog Piper, was among the therapy dogs that greeted those who visited their booth.

The festival provided a good chance for fun and fellowship for those with disabilities. Attendee Kisha Beasley said it was her second time coming to the festival and she enjoyed all the different activities.

“It has a lot of things to do so we don’t get bored around our home,” she said.

Beasley has cerebral palsy, so she uses a wheelchair to get around. She used Trans-Aid to get to the festival and uses it to regularly get where she needs to go. She said Winston-Salem does a good job making the city wheelchair accessible.

Other exhibitors included the Mayor’s Council for Persons with Disabilities, Forsyth Tech Disability Services, N.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Springwell Network, Winston-Salem Police Department, the Carolina Thunderbirds hockey team and many others.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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