Many elders and people with special needs do not attend public events because of the lack of services for them. In 2022 the organizers of the annual NYC Drag March asked if Youth Arts New York could be the fiscal conduit for a grant from Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS to provide wheelchairs, ASL interpreters and pedicabs to serve that purpose. In order for us to do so and to fulfill our mission of providing experiences in the arts, sciences and civil society that engage youth in building a future of peace, social justice and sustainability, we said we would accept the grant and employ youth to push the wheelchairs. Since then, students in the Peace and Justice programs at Pace University and New York University have been pushing empty wheelchairs at the rear of the march with signs that read, “AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST”.
Providing wheelchairs upon request has become a best practice for civil society as an element of disability justice and mutual aid. This program taught youth that in the process of creating the world we want, we must practice it. In addition we provided two ASL interpreters and held up a sign that made them visible for those who needed their service. The pedicabs were a way to honor elders of the LGBTQ community. The students who participated were deeply moved by the experience.