Houston's Music Festival
In addition to its status as a feeding frenzy for audiophiles and festival junkies, Free Press Summer Festival also used its powers to make social change.
Throughout the weekend, representatives from the Rise School of Houston, the city's first and only school dedicated to the early integrated education of children with Down syndrome and other developmental setbacks, helped Spread the Word to End the Word —namely, retard(ed) — by passing out promotional buttons and collecting signatures from festival attendees.
The "End the R-Word" campaign, which first launched in 2009, is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and hundreds of participating supporters to promote inclusion and acceptance of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
After taking some personal time to dance along to Mavis Staples on Sunday afternoon, Mayor Annise Parker joined activists backstage to add her endorsement to the campaign and meet Blakely Kress, a former student at the Rise School, and Kim Castillo, the mother of 5-year-old Milo, who became an unexpected poster boy for tolerance when his experience in a restaurant — the waiter who stood up for him — made national headlines earlier this year.
"The young people that are here today, they're already changing the world, and their ability to communicate with each other all around the world is instantaneous," Parker said of choosing Free Press Summer Fest as a venue for promotion. "They can spread this message. They can make this happen."