Contributed by Monica Alves, Communications Specialist

Inclusion involves bringing together diverse forces and seeing strength in our differences. This message is at the heart of what we do here at posAbilities. Similarly, this is a message that exudes out of the powerful LGBTQ+ Pride movement. This week (July 29 – August 5) we celebrate Pride and all that it stands for. We also want to take this opportunity to keep accessibility in mind through all the festivities and further the mission of inclusion for all.

Looking for a sensory friendly experience this Vancouver Pride Week? The Sunset Beach Festival is offering a ‘Sensory Friendly Space’ hosted by Canucks Autism Network this Sunday! Swing by Beach Ave and Broughton behind the Accessible Parade Viewing Area to take a break from the crowds. Guests can use noise cancelling headphones, stim toys and fidgets.

Vancouver Pride provides specific accessibility services for seniors, members of Deaf communities, and people with disabilities. For more event accessibility info, please visit the accessibility page on their website. More electric events and fun festivities around Metro Vancouver this week can be found here. Happy Pride!

Yesterday, we made our biggest and brightest human rainbow to date at Head Office, and snapped a group shot with our beautifully hand crafted posA Pride frame at Catherine House. Love is love!

It’s important to understand that Pride Week is more than just a colourful celebration of parties and activities. It is also a time to reflect on how far we’ve come and the actions which still must be taken in order to advance a mission of inclusion and diversity.

Did you know: The original rainbow flag was designed by American artist and gay right activist Gilbert Baker, with each of the eight colours holding a specific meaning. This flag first flew in San Francisco in 1978. Later, the turquoise and pink stripes were dropped to resemble the configuration of an actual rainbow.

β€œWe needed something to express of joy, our beauty, our power. And the rainbow did that.” – Gilbert Baker

Here are a few resources we endorse and news articles of interest to empower you this Pride!

Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, posAbilities, and Kinsight, with mentorship from InWithForward, spent several months researching how people with cognitive disabilities were experiencing sexuality and/or relationships. This research led to the design of some new ways to deliver sexual health and relationship education. In September 2017, the Public Health Agency of Canada began funding these agencies to deliver a new program to people with cognitive disabilities in the Lower Mainland. This program is Real Talk.

They recently hosted an Snacks and Chat in New West, where attendees explored topics of love, dating, sex, and relationships among fellow LGBTQ folks with diverse abilities in an engaging conversation facilitated by a certified sexual health educator. Check out their website for more upcoming events and resources.

abOUT is a Vancouver-based social and advocacy group aimed at LGBTQ people with cognitive disabilities. abOUT believes that queer folks labelled with disabilities deserve to have beautiful and colourful lives. They commit to creating, holding, protecting and expanding the spaces that queer folks labelled with disabilities often do not have access to. abOUT is for community building, knowledge and skill sharing, disability justice and advocacy, peer learning and support, and resource sharing. Co-founder Colin is happy to tell you more abOUT it here!

A Utah newspaper published an interesting report last year on higher rates of LGBTQ identities among people with autism. Check out their findings is their article β€˜Dual spectrums: More people with autism identify as LGBTQ than general population’

“Pride can be a time that reminds us that there is nothing shameful about who we are or how our bodies function or appear to others, but for too many of us, it is yet another reminder of how we are left behind.” Let’s keep accessibility in mind this Pride and further the mission of inclusion for all. Read CNN’s article β€˜Don’t leave folks with disabilities out during Pride’