The Arc has been on a roll this year and everything we have accomplished in 2010 has given us momentum in moving full steam ahead in 2011. Just as we have for the last 60 years, The Arc continues to create opportunity and make incredible things happen. Even in the midst of tough times, we’ve seen our chapters around the country help to create better lives for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
- Institutions have closed with all the former members now living in the community;
- Children with I/DD are finding support and acceptance in their public schools;
- Young adults with disabilities are realizing their dream of attending community college with their peers;
- Proud employees with disabilities are retiring after years of service in the workplace, and more.
On the national level we’re not only proud of the work of our chapters but we’re glad for some victories of 2010, including the following top five:
- The Arc was on the frontlines to ensure the passage of Rosa’s Law, removing the derogatory term “mental retardation” from federal laws. We were at the table when a coalition of disabilities rights advocates met with the former White House Chief of Staff about the “r-word.”
- The Arc’s advocacy was vital to health care reform – perhaps the most important legislation of our generation. New protections guaranteeing people with disabilities can’t be denied health insurance or have their coverage ended, long-term supports and services and access to quality care are several provisions important to people with I/DD.
- The Arc awarded subgrants to 50 chapters as part of the Walmart Foundation School-to-Community Transition Project. The project aims to increase transition outcomes and to build inclusion and involvement of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in independent living, employment, post-secondary education or vocational training, and community, social and civic affairs.
- The Arc received a $1.87 million grant from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities to launch Autism NOW, a national information and resource center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. This innovative and dynamic initiative is a much needed resource; it’s especially significant that self-advocates will have a meaningful role in leading, implementing and realizing the goals of Autism NOW.
- Leaders of The Arc were instrumental in the passage of legislation crucial to our community. A Supportive Housing Bill – the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act – passed both chambers of Congress last week and President Obama is expected to sign it into law soon. The initiative to provide more housing has been a high priority for chapters of The Arc.
As we say goodbye to the old year and ring in the new, here’s a wish from The Arc: “Here’s to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.” — Author unknown