Glee Star Lauren Potter Signs on to Appear for The Arc

Lauren PotterLauren Potter of Glee and her mother Robin Sinkhorn will join The Arc on June 14 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. as we reveal key findings from our FINDS study to the media. This landmark study surveyed the true circumstances and needs of more than 5,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and caregivers and the findings will point us in the right direction to make substantial improvements in the lives of people with I/DD through advocacy for changes in public policy and direct supports and services.

Lauren has graciously agreed to be at the press conference on June 14, but will also appear in 60-second PSAs which will be distributed in many television markets in May. Lauren and her Glee co-star, Robin Trocki attended The Arc’s national convention in Orlando Florida in November 2010 to receive our inaugural Image and Inclusion Award for positive and accurate portrayals of people with I/DD in the performing arts. We’re thrilled that she wants to continue a relationship with The Arc.

You may have seen or heard of Lauren recently speaking out against the bullying of children with special needs on Capitol Hill last week and appearing with her mother in www.abilitypath.org‘s  public service announcement “Disable Bullying.” Lauren is an incredible self-advocate who embodies the spirit of The Arc’s new tagline “Achieve with us.” Those of us who had the pleasure to meet her at The Arc’s 2010 convention can assure you that she is everything she seems to be – being a glamorous Hollywood actress doesn’t stop her from being a sweet, caring, genuine young lady. She has achieved much in her young life and is an inspiration to others to do the same.

The Arc and UCP Urge Congress to Implement the CLASS Act

Washington, D.C.  – The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) restate their support for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program. Both The Arc and UCP worked hard to support passage of the CLASS Act and support full implementation of the program.

The CLASS program is a new long term care insurance program.  It is financed by voluntary payroll deductions and will provide a cash benefit for individuals with functional limitations. CLASS plan benefits can be used for personal care attendants, assistive technology, home accessibility modifications, and other supports and services that help people with disabilities to function in their daily lives.

UCP and The Arc support the CLASS program, in part, due to our concern that individuals and families should not be forced to impoverish themselves to cover the costs of services they or their family members need in the event of disability or advancing age.  Long-term services and supports can put enormous strain on both families as well as the federal-state Medicaid program.  Both organizations believe it is imperative that the hard-fought CLASS program be fully implemented.

Nearly half of all funding for long term services is now provided through Medicaid, which is a growing burden on states and requires individuals to become and remain poor to receive the help they need. There is also an institutional bias in Medicaid whereby approximately two-thirds of all spending is directed towards nursing homes and other institutions instead of preferred community-based services and supports.

The CLASS program is a national solution to a national problem. The plan should give consumers access to a broad array of support options, including a continuum of home and community-based supportive services. This new system will ultimately relieve pressure on Medicaid. The new system should promote independence and dignity across the lifespan by ensuring beneficiaries the right to control and choose what services they receive, how and where they are delivered, and who provides them.

We are pleased by the renewed attention to the CLASS program brought about by today’s hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee.  We urge members of Congress to ensure that the CLASS program is fully implemented as soon as possible so that the working public may begin to participate in the program and insure themselves against future need.

The Arc of Indiana and Peter Berns Talk About The Arc’s New Brand

The Arc of Indiana Logo imageJust 14 days ago, The Arc launched a new brand. Many of our chapters have embraced the new look and feel, and generated lots of excitement around its official unveiling Match 1st.

Just one of those chapters is The Arc of Indiana. Be sure to check out the new look on its website, and listen to the interview Michelle Fischer did with The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns.

Berns talks about The Arc, its brand and the story behind our new look.

The Arc Makes a Statement on Employment

Late last week, The Arc submitted a formal statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to be recorded as testimony in the record of the hearings held to draw attention to the critical issues of employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

We took this opportunity to go on record with The Arc’s position that people with I/DD have a fundamental moral, civil and Constitutional right to be fully included and actively participate in all aspects of society, including having the opportunity to be competitively employed. We pointed out the dismal statistics concerning the state of employment of working age adults with I/DD and urged specific reform in several key areas of public policy. We highlighted the work The Arc is doing to identify and promote best practices in helping people with I/DD become successfully employed through programs such as School-to-Community Transition funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation. And we advocated for forceful, coordinated efforts to build up opportunities for integrated community employment.

We were grateful for this opportunity to be heard by our Congressional leaders and we urge them to take our advice. But our voice becomes louder and stronger when joined by our supporters on the grassroots level, so we encourage you to read the full statement, find out more about the issues at hand and take every opportunity to let your elected officials and community leaders know you support full inclusion for people with I/DD, including but not limited to opportunities for competitive employment. Visit www.thearc.org for more information.

The Arc to New Hampshire State Rep. Harty – People with Disabilities Are Valued & Achieve

Washington, DC –Comments by State Representative Martin Harty of New Hampshire that “the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities…the defective people society would be better off without,” should be shipped to Siberia, harkens back to the darkest days of history for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities when forced institutionalization and sterilization was commonplace.

“Rep. Harty’s remarks are reprehensible and should be condemned by his constituents and colleagues alike. Our society has long ago recognized that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are part of the fabric of our society with the right to be included and participate in the community,”  said Peter V. Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc.  “While we don’t believe that Rep. Harty views are representative of America’s elected officials, these remarks are especially chilling as budget slashing across the nation threatens the well being of our most vulnerable” Berns added

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy, Jr., sounded a clarion call to bring people with I/DD out of the shadows and into the light and affirmed the fundamental value of people with I/DD and their potential to achieve in every aspect of society.  In the face of Representative Harty’s outrageous behavior, we need to be reminded of that message today.

“People with I/DD can and should lead lives of inclusion and opportunity, realizing their full potential in school, the workplace and throughout the community.  The Arc stands with them as valued, contributing members of their community, and calls on people of good conscience in New Hampshire and nationwide to do the same.” Berns said.

The Arc’s New Brand is Sweeping the Country

The Arc of New Jersey unveils a new lobby sign

The Arc of New Jersey unveils their new lobby sign featuring the new logo.

It’s an exciting time for The Arc’s national office as well as nearly 200 Chapters of The Arc nationwide that are rolling out our new brand identity in March. The Arc has already attracted considerable attention for the new brand through the efforts of our Chapters in their communities. The Arc of Baltimore, The Arc of Oakland County and The Arc of Anchorage are just a few Chapters who are sporting the new brand on their websites. And, those Chapters plus The Arc of Palm Beach County and The Arc of Atlantic County among others received favorable press upon announcing the new brand to the media. Many Chapters launched the brand in conjunction with the promotion of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month such as The Arc of York County and The Arc of the Mid South.

The Arc of New Jersey held an Open House attended by New Jersey State Senator Bob Smith and proudly showed off Sam Jenkins and the Adrian-Hage family who are the viral stars of The Arc’s new PSAs (check them out on our Website, www.thearc.org), and The Arc of the St. Johns kicked off a broad ad campaign in northeast Florida. Disability Scoop and Ability Magazine both covered the national announcement. And, our brand consultants, Corebrand, even attracted attention for us within the design industry with www.dexigner.com covering the work they did on our behalf.

The excitement is evident in the chatter here on the blog and our social media pages with supporters congratulating us on a bold step forward for the organization. This just goes to show what an organization can do when they rely on the strength of their collective voice. We’re proud to be able to unite hundreds of Chapters across the country and our army of supporters under the banner “Achieve with us!”

Want to get on the bandwagon? Donate, volunteer or join The Arc and help us make a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Meet Sam Jenkins

Usually, you’ll find The Arc, the nation’s leading and largest organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities lending a helping hand. But in this case, it’s Sam Jenkins who lends a hand as a motivational speaker for The Arc’s New Jersey chapter leading people with disabilities like himself to become their own advocates. Watch Sam lead a group of eager self-advocates in discovering their inner strengths and speaking up for themselves.

Meet Adrian Forsythe

This is the story of Adrian Forsythe, an aspiring actor, college student and confident young man. Adrian also happens to have Down syndrome, but that won’t stop him from achieving his goals thanks to assistance from The Arc, the nation’s leading and largest organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Watch Adrian navigate campus, classes and relationships just like any typical college student.

Meet The Hage Family

This is the story of Annika and Maya Hage. In this compelling video, the girls’ parents describe their initial fears upon learning that their twin daughters would be born with a rare genetic issue leading to fairly profound disabilities as well as the sense of relief and hope they discovered after they discovered The Arc, the nation’s leading and largest organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We’re sure you’ll enjoy watching the twins thriving as happy, playful children now!

The Arc Launches a New Brand Identity

The Arc is proud to unveil a new brand identity! Starting here, starting now, you’ll find a dynamic new look for our blog, Website and publications. And along with that comes a comprehensive new brand identity which will serve to unite our chapters across the country under the banner “Achieve With Us.” It’s at once an invitation and a command, as it represents our movement’s determination to achieve even more in terms of participation, inclusion, acceptance and respect for people with I/DD in the years to come. In the logo’s design, you’ll see the energy and determination The Arc brings to supporting and embracing people with I/DD and their families across their lifetimes and across many diagnoses. You’ll notice a bold color combination of orange and yellow chosen specifically because it is unique in the realm of nonprofit organizations, and can be exclusively associated with The Arc much like a specific shade of pink is associated with breast cancer awareness.

Together, the elements of the brand represent a strong, energetic organization working to provide opportunity for people with I/DD; opportunity for hope, opportunity for growth and opportunity for change. We know a thing or two about change as we have been on the front lines of a movement that has ushered in dramatic changes in the law, in schools, in health care, in communities and often on a very personal level in individual’s lives. Check out this short video about The Arc and stay tuned for some compelling stories of individuals and families touched by The Arc as we introduce you to The Hage’s tomorrow, Adrian Forsythe on Thursday and Sam Jenkins on Friday. We think you’ll want to hear what they have to say.