Youth Challenge joined other disability agencies across Cleveland for Northeast Ohio Coalition of Disability Organizations (NOCDO)’s second annual March for Access at Public Square. This year, the focus was on “Arts Advocacy and Access,” which spotlighted the importance of people with disabilities being able to enjoy and express themselves through art.
Public figures spoke at the march, including County Executive Chris Ronayne and City of Cleveland Director of Community Relations Angela Schute-Woodson. Several artists with disabilities also spoke, including NOCDO Executive Committee Member Mara Layne, award-winning local painter Regina Dorfmeyer, and Mary Verdi-Fletcher, President and Founding Artistic Director of Dancing with Wheels.
“Today I am not only proud of my disability and my artistry,” Verdi-Fletcher said. “I know it is an important part of my advocacy to bring about greater awareness and change for access and inclusion.”
March attendees had the opportunity to celebrate the arts through various art stations, which included community art projects such as handprints on murals, t-shirt decorating, assistive device decorating, tambourine-making, and sign-making. Energy was high as march attendees with a variety of disabilities and their allies marched through Rockwell Avenue and Superior Avenue. When marchers returned to Public Square, they enjoyed poetry from disabled poet Deanna Dilley and a three-song set from the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center.
Not only was the March for Access an opportunity to celebrate the arts, it was also a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Cuyahoga County Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities (CCACPD.) March attendees were given information to sign up for subcommittees focused on accessibility, communication, developmental disabilities, employment, mental health, transportation, and voter engagement.
Last but not least, various accommodations made the march truly accessible for all, including ASL interpretation and captioning, a wheelchair charging station, and accessible restrooms (including an adult changing table from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities.)
We look forward to gathering again with Cleveland’s disability community at next year’s March for Access!