This past Sunday, I participated in the first ever All Aboard The Arc. Hopefully it will continue as an annual event, because it was so uplifting and inspiring.
History Of The Arc
What is The Arc? In 1950, a small group of parents and other concerned individuals came together to make way for change. Back then, very little was known about intellectual disabilities. There were virtually no programs to assist in the development and care of children and adults with intellectual disabilities or to support families.
Doctors often told parents that the best place for their child was in an institution. But parents wanted more for their children. For them to lead fulfilling lives out in the community and not shuttered away in dark institutions. So this small group worked to create services for children and adults who were being denied day care, educational opportunities and work programs.
With more than 140,000 members and more than 700 state and local chapters nationwide, The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
The Arc believes that like all Americans, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are entitled to be included and participate as full members of their communities. Local chapters are vital in achieving these goals and support is personalized to each individual over every stage of their life.
Services offered include: information and referral services; individual advocacy to address education, employment, health care and other concerns; self-advocacy initiatives; residential support; family support; employment programs; and leisure and recreational programs.
As you can see, the services of The Arc were badly needed when it first started in the 1950’s and are still needed now. I have a particular interest in this organization, especially The Brockton Area Arc (BAArc). The people there have been such a great help and support to my family, particularly my brother. Support services for families include not only parents, but siblings as well.
All Aboard The Arc!
The event, All Aboard The Arc, brought together local Arc chapters and their supporters from all over Massachusetts to raise awareness and to raise much needed money. Budget cuts by the state hit The Arc hard.
Trailer spoke about how when he did the show, he realized that children with developmental disabilities were being put in the back of the audience and were not allowed to fully participate. He thought that was wrong and wanted all the children to be treated fairly. So he changed that rule and became very involved with The Arc of Massachusetts. He led a wagon train across the state to raise awareness of the needs of children with intellectual disabilities. That wagon train was the inspiration for All Aboard The Arc.
Often when we think of people with disabilities, the thought is of children. But children with disabilities grow up and become adults who want to work and have fun just like everyone else. Performances by Community Voices, a chorus, the Rainbow Players, an improv theatre group, and Team Disco, a dance team showed the talents, creativity, and pride of each performer.
The improv group addressed the issue of bullying and how much it hurts. A report on the website AbilityPath.org estimates that as many as 85% of children with special needs experience bullying. The Rainbow Players also did a skit showing that you have to hold onto your dreams no matter what anyone says. A powerful message for all of us.
I started a team online for donations. Please click here to give and find out more about BAArc. Every little bit helps. Even if all that you can afford is two dollars or five dollars. It adds up and is for a great cause. So many people need help and with each budget cut, BAArc is forced to do less.
I’m also going to be contacting a few companies for corporate donations. If any individuals or companies would like to help, you can donate here to my team, send me an email (analisfirstamendment AT hotmail DOT com) or contact BAArc directly.
If you could spread the word about this effort, it would mean the world to me. Thank you for your support and wish me luck!
*Updated 5/12/2012 to remove outdated donation page links.