Hollis Vanderlinden and David Hayes, with Mountain Valley Greenhouse, assisted people in planting a geranium to take home during the disability pride event. Photo by James Steindler

This is a summer of firsts for Glenwood Springs, at least when it comes to putting on Pride events. Most recently, the city celebrated disability pride at Two Rivers Park on July 26.

The event marked the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law on July 26, 1990, which prohibits discrimination within the workplace and in utilizing public services. July is thus considered Disability Pride Month. 

Several organizations joined the party, each of them committed to doing their part to assist people living with disabilities: The Arc of Central Mountains, Challenge Aspen, Mountain Valley Developmental Services, Art on 8th, Mountain Valley Greenhouse, Ascendigo Autism Services, Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the city of Glenwood Springs’ Parks and Recreation Department. 

Attendees had a chance to learn about these organizations and have fun in the process — from pulling Jenga blocks at the Aspen Camp tent to bag tossing with Ascendigo Autism Services. 

The Sopris Sun caught up with Jill Pidcock, executive director of The Arc of the Central Rocky Mountains, who helped organize the event. 

The Arc has been collaborating with Glenwood Springs’ Parks and Recreation Department for its adaptive recreational programming the past couple of months. Kaleb Cook, community and therapeutic recreation supervisor for the city, having a proclivity for inclusive programming and events (along with Pidcock and other organizers) decided to put together the disability pride celebration.

Pidcock also gave a shout out to Voces Unidas for, in part, sponsoring the July 26 event. 

“It’s so nice for us to see all of these groups coming together to really highlight the services that they do,” stated Pidcock. “We are all coming together and collaborating on a common message.” 

Garfield County Health partnered with Glenwood Springs to create a community survey introduced at the pride event, inquiring about peoples’ perceptions of community access for those living with disabilities. The bilingual survey can be accessed online through Aug. 12, at bit.ly/AccessSurveyCOG 

The Arc

The Arc of the Central Mountains obtained its nonprofit standing in 2017. It is the 15th chapter of The Arc in Colorado. While it is not a provider, the organization advocates for each of its participants and lines them up with local providers that fit their needs.

Most of its participants are school-aged children, but The Arc works with all ages. 

“The majority of our advocacy is educational,” explained Pidcock. She added that the organization works a lot with the school districts. 

More than half of The Arc’s clients identify as Latinx, according to Pidcock. Part of advocacy is networking for and connecting families with similar experiences. Therefore, the nonprofit facilitates a Spanish-speaking support group that meets regularly. 

Filling another void, The Arc advocates for people with intellectual disabilities in the courtroom, whether that person is a defendant or a plaintiff. “We found ourselves in the court pretty early on,” stated Pidcock. 

Their presence in the courtroom led to educating lawyers and law enforcement. “It opened the door to do more education with our public defender offices, some district attorney offices as well as police departments and first responders,” she stated. 

Moreover, due to emergency occurrences in the Valley — from COVID to wildfires — The Arc has stepped up to assist with emergency response and preparedness for “access and functional needs community members,” explained Pidcock. 

The Arc holds office hours a few times each month for those who are curious about its services. Visit www.arccentralmountains.org for more information.