Celebrating 5 Years Blogging & The Abilities Of People With Disabilities

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.

The R Word

From 1953 through 1973, the organization was called National Association for Retarded Children(NARC). As the words retardation and retarded became derogatory and demeaning in usage, the organization changed its name to The Arc.

The term mental retardation is used in the medical field and referenced in many laws, but the terms intellectual disability and developmental disability are preferred. The Arc and many of us in society believe that the only 'r-word' that should be used when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is Respect.

The Arc Now

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.

600 of us boarded buses and headed to Hanover Theatre in Worcester for a program celebrating the abilities of people with disabilities. My brother, my parents, and I met up in Brockton at The Shaw’s Center and were treated to a continental breakfast before boarding the buses with the other riders.

Thank you HarborOne Credit Union, The Shaw’s Center, Brockton Rox, and Roche Bros.! The generosity of these BAArc sponsors helped make the program possible.

The program was hosted by Dan Rea of WBZ Radio. One of the most moving speakers was Rex Trailer, who hosted the television show Boomtown back when I was a kid. I used to love the show by the way.

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.

5 Years Blogging & My Life List

#8 on my life list is to raise $1,000.00 for a charity. On April 29th, this blog turns five. I’ve written recently that I hope to do more good with it and make a real difference. I’d love it if you could help me to support BAArc by raising $1,000.00 for them.

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.

So, if you’d like to help me celebrate my blog birthday and cross off another item on my life list, please consider making a donation to BAArc.

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.

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Mosilager said…
Congratulations on 5 years ! Can't believe it's been that long. Here's to many more.

Thanks for sharing the information about the Arc, sounds like a worthwhile organization.
Josephine said…
Happy anniversary!

I'm glad organizations like ARC exist. I cringe whenever I hear people say "retarded" when they mean "ridiculous" or the like. I know it somehow slipped into people's mind that that word is a common part of the vernacular, but that doesn't make it right.
Lisa Johnson said…
mosilager - Thank you! I always appreciate your comments. Yours were some of the first! ; )

josephine - I cringe too. And it just makes me feel sad. : (
The only R word that should be used is respect? I like that. And I respect the fact that you've been blogging for 5 years. I'm only coming up on 1. I've been loving the journey too. Great and thoughtful post.
Mommy Moxie said…
Congrats on five years of blogging and thanks for this great post on ARC!

As a former special needs educator, I hate the fact that we ever referred to people with special needs as "retarded". They have special needs or are challenged in some way. Instead of trying to get people to stop using "retarded" in reference to something ridiculous, we need to change the wording we use in reference to those with special needs. The term "mentally retarded" has no place in legislation or school curriculums; we need to make the change where we can versus trying to change what is now popular slang.

Happy SITS day!,
My Great-Aunt (great in so many ways) decided against the many recommendations she received to have her baby-boy who was born with Down Syndrome put in an institution ~ and that was back in the very early 1920s. Jimmy got to grow up at home, with his parents and sisters and all his cousins around him. Jimmy taught me a lot and the best thing he taught me was to use that "r" word - RESPECT. He lived until his 66th birthday, way more years than anyone thought possible back then. Thank you for the work you do.
Happy Anniversary and good luck with your fund raising. You are very inspiring indeed!

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