SAN ANTONIO – The AccessABILITY Festival took over Hemisfair Park on Saturday. It was an event that formed part of San Antonio’s fabric for the past 16 years.
“We are out here just to celebrate one segment of diversity of the San Antonio community, and that is the disability community here today,” said Melanie Cawthon, executive director of disABILITYsa.
The event is put on by disABILITYsa -- an organization whose mission is to create an inclusive community where people with a disability can live, work and more importantly play.
“To experience an inclusive and wonderful opportunity to just be able to have that, that outlet to independence, to find more independence and overcome those barriers that they face every day,” said Lisa Santoya, program director of disABILITYsa.
According to disABILITYsa, 1 out of 7 San Antonians have a disability, making this event more relatable for so many people.
“It’s a strong feeling and they do have a lot of, they bring light and power to everyone who they’re around. I can speak more from my nephew, who is always a blessing to be around. Whenever he comes in the room, he charges everyone up and he’s always, always a blast to be with,” said Marion David Tafolla.
Saturday’s event made sure all persons with a disability were included by highlighting their abilities, not their disability.
“We love Gabriel being included in these events because he’s such a special kid. He’s an amazing, amazing kid. And yet his body doesn’t work like yours or mine does. But that doesn’t mean that we should limit him at all,” said Wheeler Alcala.
Gabriel was born at 29 weeks, was in the neonatal ICU for six weeks and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. His mom said he’s lived a different life than most kids, but nothing gets in the way of having fun.
“So, he was just enjoying the rock wall because we want to give him those experiences. I’ve never even been rock climbing, and now he has. So, this is what it means to me that he gets these experiences and that he gets to interact with other people like him,” said Wheeler.
If you are interested in volunteering, visit www.disabilitysa.org.