Aquarium’s 14th Annual Festival of Human Abilities Celebrates Those with Disabilities

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Images courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific.

The Aquarium of the Pacific’s 14th Annual Festival of Human Abilities, to take place Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29, will celebrate the talents and creativity of people with disabilities through live music, dance, art and demonstrations.

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“The Festival of Human Abilities is a celebration of the creative and positive spirit of people with disabilities,” said Peter Marineau, the festival’s organizer.

Festival performers will include hip hop wheelchair dancers Auti Angel, The Rollettes and Infinite Flow; a sign language choir; Kodi Lee, a singer who is blind and has autism; Dat Nguyen, a guitarist who is blind; and other artists, according to the announcement.

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“Guests with disabilities are inspired by participants to push beyond preconceived notions of their limitations and to feel good about themselves,” said Marineau. “They get to enjoy the camaraderie of others facing similar situations.”

Such opportunities usually take place in a care facility, but at the aquarium these interactions can occur in a place of celebration and education, where they can feel accepted, respected and honored, he said.

During the festival there will be art demonstrations and displays, including mouth-stick art by local creatives with disabilities. Diveheart, an organization with the mission of building confidence in children, adults and veterans with disabilities through scuba diving, will present adaptive scuba demonstrations.

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A variety of creative workshops will also be held throughout the aquarium, where attendees can learn how to sing in sign language, create wheelchair art, paint a hat and try their skills at hip hop wheelchair dancing. All major programming will have sign language interpreters, while audio tours will be provided for guests who are blind, according to aquarium officials.

The festival is for everyone who attends. Those without disabilities will be able to see the inspiring achievements of those facing adversities, and also get a chance to meet and greet without preconceptions, said Marieau.

“The general public gets the opportunity to interact with participants [...] in a unique environment that helps everyone see past the surface level and realize that we still have much in common,” he continued. “We learn that we all have an important place in life and that we can all help each other overcome adversity and thrive.”

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This year’s honoree is Andrew Skinner, who in 2008 co-founded the Triumph Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Skinner has volunteered his time to mentor and offer support through the foundation, which promotes recovery and return of function through regular exercise, living a healthy lifestyle, gaining independence and maintaining a positive attitude.

“[...]The aquarium builds knowledge and understanding, bridges the gap between able-bodied people and those with disabilities, and encourages people with disabilities to experience the wonders of the Aquarium,” said Marineau. “The focus of the festival is to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families by bringing about a transforming experience and empowering participants through interaction amongst fellow participants and through hands-on lessons.”

The 14th Annual Festival of Human Abilities will take place Saturday, January 28 and Sunday January 29 from 9:00AM to 5:00PM, with the awards ceremony to take place Sunday at 11:45AM.

For more information, including the schedule of events, visit the link here.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way.



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