Written by Lilian Lin
Throughout July, we took part in celebrations that honored the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These events were especially meaningful to us because of our efforts to support families with children with special health care needs. Spearheaded by the Health Center’s Pediatric Special Needs Team and generously funded by the family and friends of Mrs. Vicki Chang, the Special Needs Initiative is a comprehensive effort aimed to meet the multiple challenges faced by Chinese immigrant parents and caregivers of children with special needs. Through providing parent workshops, training programs, referrals to parent networks, and enhancing community collaboration, the Special Needs Initiative engages, empowers, and improves services for immigrant families with special needs children.
One of the major goals of this Initiative is to bring about systematic changes to address the complex barriers to care for children with special needs. To date, our Special Needs Team has built collaborative relationships with several community service agencies in Manhattan and Brooklyn that serve children with special needs and their families. Taking part in advocacy activities, such as the July Disability Pride Month events, has strengthened the voice of the disability community.
On July 10, 2016, the Pediatric Special Needs Team and two Health Center volunteers participated in the Festival of Fun and Fraternity which took place at Madison Square Park following the 2nd Annual New York City Disability Pride Parade.
The New York City Disability Pride Parade was started in July 2015 by Mike LeDonne, jazz pianist and Hammond organist, to promote inclusion, awareness, and visibility of people with disabilities, and to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), legislation that demands equal access and equal treatment of people with disabilities.
Our team set up a booth to distribute free educational materials about issues related to children and teenagers with special needs, as well as provided fun activities, such as bubble guns and temporary tattoos, to attract visitors of all ages. Our booth had a great turnout from individuals, families, and staff from agencies serving individuals with disabilities and their families.
On July 24, 2016, the Pediatric Special Needs Team and three Health Center volunteers participated in the Chinatown Weekend Walk Disability Pride ADA Birthday Party which took place in Chinatown on Mott Street (between Canal and Worth Streets). Many cultural organizations and local businesses joined together to celebrate the diverse disability community and the 26th anniversary of the ADA.
We appreciated joining this opportunity to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities and celebrate diversity among the Chinatown community.
Lilian Lin is the program coordinator of the Special Needs Initiative at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about working with people and supporting families.