I stumbled across event number 45 and without doubt one of the most heartwarming events I have experienced. A smile made my heart feel warm and giving off loving vibes as this blog will give you a story of something more than just an event – it was hope.
What was the event?
La Nuit du Handicap was an annual event. The website, below, highlights the impact aims – although in French – it’s all about activities that are for all to try. On a lovely Paris Saturday evening on the 15th of June it was a glorious evening for an event and for the warmth that came from this event.
What happened at the event?
An event that was not meant to be part of my adventure or discovered can lead to most memorable experience. A one night event was what met me as large banners were draped over the fountain and bright colourful bunting over the event site. A welcome sign with two hands shaking each other’s hands. A depiction of peace and love in a minority but majority world that is of chaos and hate.
The event in the past was held in Notre Dame. However, this venue was obviously out of bounds and instead was held in a square near Republique near my hotel. It was beautiful. It was unique. And it was inspirational. One blind man and a gentleman who was signing welcomed everyone in to the event through gates. Security checked all the bags and in i went to an event not about inclusion but about giving the opportunity to all have fun – together. It is exactly what an event should be. Constructed times of happiness and togetherness. On a Saturday evening the beauty of bubbles, noise and colour was present in the middle of the “palace” (Square). Hundreds of people milling through the gates.
I walked through and was met with stalls after stalls. Probably about 24 different organisations. The whole premise of the event was to allow everyone not to be “included” but about “togetherness”. I was told by a few people whom I got speaking to – who were volunteers – that the event was about education and awareness but opportunities to come together as one. At the event activations included “Fragile Express” now let me explain what this was. Those who were able to walk around were able to go into a wheelchair train. 4 wheelchairs were then pushed in the same route. For children they were jumping on this they loved it. But it was for education to allow fully able people to feel what it was like to be in a wheelchair. I asked a volunteer about that and they explained its about raising awareness and perceptions. I think, considering this event is in the middle of the street, it is the biggest tool that can be used to really raise awareness. It’s also the place that I saw the thinking lightbulbs come on the most by those who thought it was just “an activation”. Other stalls including bubble creations, wheelchair fencing and the “possible” area.
The “possible area” to watch was the most amazing. It was everyone with various levels of abilities having the time of their life. Whether this was laughter therapy, drawing, art creation and so on. It was an absolute treat. It was an absolute dream to experience. But also an event that should be needed The stage was also alive and a buzz with different performances.
Of course due to the fact I couldn’t speak French it was difficult to engage but watching was just as special. This highlighted to me that more events need to not just “embed” inclusion but actually be about accessibility. It’s about the creation of events that allow those who in society may be restricted are actually fully part of everything. It’s about creating events for all- and together the events industry can do that.
My three recommendations:
- don’t see the events as needing to have “accessible options”…be part of the planning. Ignoring this is just lazy
- Fun activities for all
- Think about the journey of everyone there and not just adapting elements to make it “inclusive”.
One thing to take away from the event..
My heart cried but it was good tears for the warmth created by an event so spectacular. My eyes opened and my mind broadened. My events mind was off and as a human I watched something that was truly beautiful, enjoyable and fun to find.