Our Gateway club has been running now for 46 years and, with over 100 members, we are one of the largest in the province. We meet one night per week and offer a range of leisure activities.
I decided to look into organising a Learning Disability Pride event after attending Belfast’s Disability Pride Day in 2014, which I thought celebrated people with physical rather than a learning disability.
After reflecting on this I put in an application for funding through the Big Lottery Celebrate Programme to create an event that celebrates the contribution that people with a learning disability make to society. We were ecstatic when we found out we were successful!
We received £5000 from the Big Lottery and have secured another £5000 through our local Mencap society here in Carrickfergus.
We are all excited about the day and happy that we are playing a part in raising awareness of learning disability, building and reuniting friendships and relationships.
While we are hosting the day it appears everyone from around Northern Ireland is getting excited about the event and looking forward to contributing to it.
We have a good team of people from a variety of services all with one goal and passion to raise awareness of learning disability in our community and country! Regarding our plans for the day, there is expected to be a march with posters and banners, starting at Carrickfergus Health Centre and finishing at Carrickfergus Castle, where there will be a concert in the grounds.
The club are very much involved, with them being made aware of progress along the way through our members meetings.
Members are keen to get involved and we hope to make an educational DVD through the project that will educate mainstream school children, hopefully they will then turn up on the day and support the event.
"I feel proud that we can show the public that we can come together as a community and celebrate who we are."
- Kerry, club member
I hope that other parts of the UK will follow Northern Ireland and start their own Learning Disability Pride Days.
It would be the dream to have the event rolled out across the UK, and for our event to become an annual event in Northern Ireland.
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