Disability nonprofit organization YAI hosted its annual Central Park Challenge event on June 4 to raise funds that will create opportunities for the disabled to live, work and learn.
“The Central Park Challenge fills each person supported with a sense of pride,” said Marcelline Billy-Reid, the residential supervisor of Flatbush 2, a YAI residence in Brooklyn.
The event began in 1986 as a fun run held in Westchester to encourage fitness and healthy living among the disabled. Today, it includes a 3K walk, carnival area filled with games and live entertainment.
The event now has thousands of supporters every year. This year, supporters included Lachi, a blind musician, public speaker and disability advocate; and Brass Queens, an all-female brass band based in Brooklyn.
Other supporters included the ZCO Dance Project founded by Zazel-Chavah O’Garra and Cheer New York, a nonprofit of cheerleaders in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.
The event, more than anything, provides an opportunity for the disabled to socialize with people making a difference in their lives.
For example, Laquane Suarez, from the Flatbush 2 residence, got the opportunity to collaborate with the Supervisor of his residence to energize the crowd.
In addition, “Giving him a role in a task of that magnitude boosted his confidence and belief in his abilities,” Billy-Reid said.
Furthermore, families get to learn more about services YAI provides, which encourage social interaction, artistic expression and physical adaptation.
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