Imagine What We Can Do Together

A brother and sister hug

Do you believe that all people, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have abilities and value? Do you believe people with I/DD have the right to live and work in communities of their choosing? Have you thought about aligning your group with The Arc as a chapter?

The Arc is the largest community-based organization for people with I/DD, leading a national movement advocating for and supporting families and individuals with I/DD across their lifetimes and across all diagnoses. We believe in self-determination and empowering people with the support they need to make informed decisions and choices about how they live. Do you?

Although we’re a large, national organization with a strong, 60-year history of advocating for people with I/DD, our true strength is found within our network of more than 700 chapters across the country. It is people like you working through local organizations who are on the front lines serving and supporting people with I/DD and their families. How much more could you do with the power of The Arc behind you?

We’d like to find out. The Arc is now actively seeking organizations to join our chapter network and take advantage of benefits such as strong federal advocacy initiatives, organizational support, a bold national identity, discounts on training and events, access to collaborative fundraising projects, a network of experienced executives offering professional support, and other resources to make the work you do a little easier. Find out more at www.thearc.org/become-a-chapter or contact Dee Dee Eberle, Director of Chapter Organizing and Advocacy at Eberle@thearc.org today.

P.S. If becoming a Chapter is not your cup of tea, but you still would like to support The Arc, consider becoming an Organizational Member. Explore the benefits.

A Blueprint for Change

Blueprint for Change Report Cover by The Arc of Indiana

Earlier this year, The Arc of Indiana embarked on a broad-based campaign to create change in Indiana’s systems for serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Starting with the creation of a Big Minds Group made up of leaders in the field, and continuing with Pathways Forums held throughout Indiana to gather input from individuals with I/DD and their families, their efforts led to the formation of the Indiana Response Team to develop goals and take action. All of those elements of the campaign have come together in The Arc of Indiana’s Blueprint for Change.

The Blueprint for Change is a thorough report which takes a fresh and sometimes hard look at current systems in Indiana then lays out a bold action plan for creating change in how individuals and families receive services. The Arc of Indiana is actively distributing this blueprint online and sending out hard copies upon request. They recently distributed copies to attendees at their annual state conference and provided additional copies to local chapters throughout the state so those chapters could lead the way in taking action in their communities. Check out the Blueprint for Change online or contact The Arc of Indiana at 1-800-382-9100 for more information.

Nationwide Emergency Alert Test May Not Have Visual Disclaimer

On November 9, 2011, at 2 p.m. EST, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) consisting of an announcement on every TV and radio channel. This system allows FEMA to communicate important information to citizens in the event of a national emergency. The November 9 alter is ONLY a test of the notification system and no action is required.

However, some people watching cable television may receive only an audio – not visual – notice that this is only a test due to technical limitations of the system. People with hearing impairments will see what appears to be an actual emergency alert but will not see any text on the screen indicating that this is only a test. If this applies to you, don’t be alarmed if you see what appears to be an emergency alert on November 9, it is only a test and no action is required. You can visit the FCC for more information about the test alert.

Senator Harkin, Senator Grassley and Congressman Loebsack meet with The Arc’s “Achieve with us” Contest Winner

The Smothers Family

The Smothers Family: Tyler Smothers, Cindy Smothers, J.J. Smothers and Josh Smothers – visit The Arc's National Office. Tyler Smothers won The Arc's Achieve with us Contest, held last summer.

Washington, DC – This week, The Arc of the United States welcomed Tyler Smothers, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Washington, DC to meet with Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-2) to share his story of achievement.

In August, The Arc announced that Tyler was the winner of the first ever “Achieve with us” social media contest. The contest invited individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to share their stories of achievement. Out of 119 contestants garnering more than 25,000 votes, Tyler was selected for his impressive achievements in his community, which had been devastated by floods in 2008.

Tyler was and remains very involved with his local chapter, The Arc of East Central Iowa.  As downtown Cedar Rapids succumbed to flood waters, and the chapter’s office sustained major damage, Tyler saw the need to help his community get back on its feet.  So he became the driving force behind The Arc of East Central Iowa’s annual bike riding fundraiser “Tour de Flood.” Putting aside his wheelchair and using an adaptive bike, Tyler leads the ride, and every year since, has raised an impressive amount of funds for his chapter.

As the winner of the contest, Tyler and his mother received a two day trip to Washington, DC. Tyler was in Washington, DC from November 1-3, meeting with The Arc’s National staff in addition to members of his Congressional delegation.  Tyler was also joined by his father, J.J. Smothers, and his brother, Josh Smothers, who submitted Tyler’s entry on Facebook.

During his meetings, Tyler shared the challenges of living with a disability. He also told Congressman Loebsack how the services he and his friends receive allow them to remain active in the community and how that is important to him. Tyler’s mother Cindy spoke about how Medicaid is a lifeline for her family. Without Medicaid, Cindy would not be able to work and Tyler would not be able to be the active member of his community that he is.

Tyler’s meetings on Capitol Hill come at a critical juncture in budget negotiations, where programs that people with I/DD rely on could be on the table for cuts.  The Arc is in the midst of an advocacy campaign, called “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline,” to protect Medicaid.

“Anyone that meets Tyler will learn that he is a young man who values his independence and loves his community.  Medicaid cuts in Washington would cause great harm to Tyler, his family, and millions like him across the country because they would be left without the services and supports that allow them to live the kind of life we all want for people with disabilities,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Tyler made an impression on each elected official.

“Tyler is an incredible young man – an Iowan who demonstrates why we must focus on an individual’s abilities, not their disabilities.  After meeting with Tyler and his family, it is no surprise why he won The Arc’s ‘Achieve with Us’ award.  His spirit and dedication to community are an inspiration to all of us,” said – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)

“I appreciated getting to meet with Tyler,” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said. “Tyler is literally leading the way for his neighbors as Cedar Rapids continues to recover from flooding.  He’s an inspiration and deserving of this recognition. I encouraged him to keep up the good work, but it was clear to me he was already planning on that.”

“It was an honor to meet Tyler and his family while they were in Washington.  His work to raise money for The Arc of East Central Iowa should serve as inspiration for us all,” said said Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-2).  “I applaud The Arc for their work to provide assistance to people with disabilities and I will continue to work to ensure that families like the Smothers have access to the programs and services they need. It is vitally important that people with disabilities have every possible chance to participate in their communities and that their families have the support they need to care for their loved ones.”

The Arc Welcomes Iowa’s Tyler Smothers, “Achieve with us” Contest Winner, to Washington, DC to Advocate on Capitol Hill

Tyler SmothersWashington, DC – This week, The Arc of the United States will welcome Tyler Smothers, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Washington, DC to meet with members of the Iowa Congressional delegation.

In August, The Arc announced that Tyler was the winner of the first ever “Achieve with us” social media contest. The contest invited individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to share their stories of achievement. Out of 119 contestants garnering more than 25,000 votes, Tyler was selected for his impressive achievements in his community, which had been devastated by floods in 2008.

Tyler was very involved with his local chapter, The Arc of East Central Iowa, where he participated in day programs, social events, and interacted in his community.  As downtown Cedar Rapids succumbed to flood waters, and the chapter’s office sustained major damage, Tyler saw the need to help his community get back on its feet.  So he became the driving force behind The Arc of East Central Iowa’s annual bike riding fundraiser “Tour de Flood.” Putting aside his wheelchair and using an adaptive bike, Tyler leads the ride, and every year since, has raised an impressive amount of funds for his chapter.  In fact, in the first year of the ride, Tyler set a goal of raising $2,000 – he far exceeded that amount, bringing in $18,000.  The 4th annual “Tour de Flood” took place on September 18.

As the winner of the contest, Tyler and his mother received a two day trip to Washington, DC. Tyler will be in Washington, DC from November 1-3, meeting with The Arc’s National staff in addition to members of his Congressional delegation. He is scheduled to meet with Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-2) to share his story of achievement. When asked what he will discuss when he comes to Washington, Tyler said, “I am going to tell them living with a disability is challenging.”

Tyler’s meetings on Capitol Hill come at a critical juncture in budget negotiations, where programs that people with I/DD rely on could be on the table for cuts.  The Arc is in the midst of an advocacy campaign, called “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline,” to protect Medicaid.

“Tyler exemplifies what The Arc stands for and we are honored to host him and his family during their trip to Washington, DC. Tyler is an inspiration to his friends and neighbors in Iowa, and this week, he will take his message to leaders in Washington to demonstrate why in particular the Medicaid lifeline is so important,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.