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.

Spread Some Awareness in Your World

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month thanks to a 1987 Presidential Proclamation which was the direct result of the advocacy efforts of The Arc.  A lot has changed since then: more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are living and thriving in their communities rather than institutions, there are more opportunities in education and employment, more protections in health care, the legal system and other areas of human rights, there are more positive and accurate portrayals of people with I/DD in the arts, the list goes on. But we must remember that many of those advancements were hard won. Self-advocacy and advocacy on behalf of those with I/DD was the impetus for many of the positive changes in our society, such as the proclamation that recognized DD Awareness Month.

It’s up to you to continue to advocate for respect, access and inclusion of people with I/DD. Take advantage of March to spread some awareness in your world. Learn more about the issues concerning people with I/DD and The Arc’s position on those issues. Learn more about public policy that impacts people with I/DD and contact your legislator. Since many people with disabilities rely on publicly funded services to fully participate in their communities, policy makers need to know you are concerned about continuing those services in the face of budget cuts during tough economic times. And, get involved. Find a local chapter of The Arc and volunteer or donate. Together we can continue to make a difference.

What Can I Do to Raise Awareness About Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities?

There’s a lot you as an individual can you do to raise awareness about intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in your community. And, since March is I/DD Awareness Month, that’s the perfect time to do your thing – we encourage you to pick at least one idea from the list below and make that your personal effort to raise I/DD awareness during March.

  • Post this as your status on Facebook at least once during March: March is Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Awareness Month. Help me celebrate the contributions of all people with I/DD by copying and posting this as your status during March. Get more information about I/DD at www.thearc.org.
  • Tweet this out on Twitter at least once during March: March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Be aware. Visit www.thearc.org.
  • Write a post for your blog about someone you know with an intellectual or developmental disability and how they have inspired you.
  • Since many people with disabilities rely on publicly funded services to fully participate in their communities, policy makers need to know you are concerned about continuing those services in the face of budget cuts during tough economic times. Contact your legislator today and let them know you expect them to enact public policy to assist people with I/DD.
  • Contact your local chapter of The Arc to volunteer or donate. Local chapters are on the front lines of advocacy efforts and provide the services and supports essential to people with I/DD and their families. Often they are lifelines for struggling families and they need your help to accomplish their goals.
  • Watch movies and TV shows that positively portray actors with disabilities and discuss them with your friends and family. Two actresses with Down syndrome are featured on the hit TV show Glee and were recently awarded The Arc’s Inclusion and Image Award for their positive portrayals.
  • Talk to your employer about their practices for recruiting and hiring people with I/DD. Many employers don’t realize just how much an employee with I/DD can contribute to the workplace. Tell them.
  • Support businesses that employ people with I/DD and make sure they know you noticed.
  • Comment on The Arc’s Facebook page and Twitter profile about what you are doing to raise awareness of I/DD.

Temple Grandin to Keynote at Convention

Dr. Temple Grandin, the real-life inspiration the biopic which recently won Claire Danes an Emmy and a Golden Globe award, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at The Arc’s National Convention in Denver, CO in September.

Dr. Grandin is a woman with autism who became one of the top scientists developing groundbreaking methods for the humane treatment of livestock. Make your plans now to attend the Convention this fall. Early registration begins soon at www.thearc.org.

 

Celebrate Paul Marchand

Paul Marchand

Paul Marchand

For 38 years, Paul Marchand was one of the most ardent and successful disability policy advocates working on behalf of The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy and the entire intellectual and developmental disability community. Upon his retirement in January, it was obvious that our organizations would suffer if we did not immediately cultivate advocates of his caliber to eventually fill his shoes. We also couldn’t imagine letting someone like Paul walk away without doing something significant to celebrate his storied career.

With Paul’s blessing, we created The Paul Marchand Internship Fund to establish a policy fellowship supporting young people pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with I/DD. The Fund will help enable future professionals to work at an approved site in Washington, D.C. by offsetting travel expenses, helping with cost-of-living expenses or other means of assistance.

The goal is to raise $50,000 for one or two fellows in 2011. To kick off a campaign for the fellowship fund and to honor Paul in person in the company of his colleagues and friends, there will be a special reception during the annual Disability Policy Seminar in D.C. in which Paul has always played a large role. We invite you to join us Tuesday evening, February 15 in support of The Paul Marchand Internship Fund. Find out more about the Fund and The Disability Policy Seminar at www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org or www.thearc.org.

Does Speaking Up Make a Difference?

In the current political climate, it’s easy to become frustrated and start thinking that your voice doesn’t count. But we’re here to tell you that when you advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, your voice is heard. It does count. And, we have proof.

Every year hundreds of advocates like you come together on Capitol Hill for the annual Disability Policy Seminar for three days. For the first two days of the seminar, you hear from disability policy experts and other advocates about the most pressing issues facing the I/DD community this year. Then, on the third day, you take the Hill by storm with your fellow advocates and personally meet with your Senators and Representatives, including members of key committees that control the legislation you want to see passed or defeated. We have done some research and discovered that at least for the past few years, Congressional sponsorship of crucial bills important to the I/DD community increased in the months immediately following the annual seminar.

So, what issues were discussed during those meetings? What bills were pushed? That was up to you. All we know is, after your visits, many of those Senators and Representatives seemed to suddenly decide to co-sponsor bills to positively impact the lives of people with I/DD.  And, many of those bills were subsequently passed into law. Maybe it was coincidence. We think it was because of you.

The 2011 Disability Policy Seminar is February 14-16 and early registration ends January 11. Are you registered yet?

Looking Back, Looking Forward: 2010 Wrap Up

Thank You imageIt’s been an amazing year to be a part of The Arc. The support of people like you has been crucial in furthering our mission to provide hope and opportunity for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Looking back on 2010, our 60th anniversary year, we are in awe of what you have helped us accomplish. And, looking forward to 2011, with your continued support, we are poised to accomplish even more.

The Arc works to foster respect and access for individuals with I/DD and their families, giving them the power to achieve full and satisfying lives as valued, contributing members of their communities. In 2010 alone we moved ever closer to our goals through:

  • The passage of Rosa’s Law, removing the derogatory term “mental retardation” from federal laws
  • The establishment of new protections guaranteeing people with disabilities can’t be denied health insurance or have their coverage ended
  • The creation of a new voluntary public insurance program for long-term services and supports to help people live in their own homes, not institutions
  • The development of new criminal penalities for hate crimes against people with disabilities
  • The launch of Walmart Foundation-funded School-to-Community Transition services in 50 U.S. communities

The Arc is determined to build on the progress of 2010 and foster change in 2011 through a huge initiative to provide a strong new brand identity under which all of our 730+ chapters can come together. You’ll find out more about that in your February 2011 E-newsletter just before the national launch of the new brand. In the meantime, we’ll be moving forward with Autism NOW, an information and resource center just established by a $1.87 million grant from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. And, we’ll be putting to work a large grant from NISH to foster community-based employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thanks for being a supporter of The Arc. We rely on the generosity and loyalty of friends like you. We hope you will take this opportunity to visit www.thearc.org for more information about ways you can help make a difference for years to come.

Image by Flickr user woodleywonderworks.

Film Company Seeks Families Living with Autism

Television imagePie Town Productions, which has produced television shows for Discovery, TLC and A&E including the Emmy award-winning A Baby Story, is seeking families with multiple children diagnosed with Asperger’s and/or autism. They are planning a documentary-style series to shed light on misconceptions about the disorders.

The company would like to connect with families who have two or more children on the autism spectrum who are under 18 years of age and live at home. Focusing on a family with multiple children with ASD will allow the series to explore how it affects each individual differently. Their stated intent is to follow such a family and produce a thoughtful and respectful series leading to greater understanding and sensitivity about the disorders through the real-life perspectives of the family members featured.

You can find out more about Pie Town Productions at www.pietown.tv. They are currently producing Meat and Potatoes for the Food Network and the family documentary series Downsized for WE. If your family is interested, you can contact Lauri Lannan at 818-255-9277 or lauri_lannan@pietown.tv.

Image by Frecuencia.

Being Thankful

Pumpkin Pie imageWhat are you thankful for this year?

The question is bound to come up as we gather with our family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. There are the standard vague answers: health, happiness, loved ones, good food…

This year, however, may we suggest you get a little more specific? Here’s what we at The Arc are thankful for in 2010.

Rosa

Let’s be thankful for a little girl who inspired a loving brother to take action against the “R” word. Thanks to Rosa Marcellino, who has Down syndrome, her family, a slew of supporters from the intellectual and developmental disability community, and a legislator from Maryland, the insulting and hurtful term “mental retardation” was replaced in many federal laws with the term intellectual disability. It may seem a small victory to replace an inappropriate term buried in the legalese of federal legislation, but as we all know, how we refer to people is often representative of how we treat them.

CLASS

Let’s be thankful for CLASS. No, it’s not the character trait you wish your brother-in-law had a little more of…it’s the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act. This bill amended the Public Health Service Act to help people with functional impairment and their families pay for the services and supports they need to give them maximum functionality and independence.

Insurance

Let’s be thankful for our health insurance policies. Ok, some of you are giving me weird looks, but hear me out. Thanks to provisions of health care reform legislation, insurance providers will now cover “pre-existing conditions” for children under 19. This means many children with intellectual and developmental disabilities will receive benefits under their parents job-related insurance policies for conditions for which they were previously denied coverage. This will help lift a huge financial burden off the shoulders of families. Although we’re living in a day and age when we should be able to take things like basic health care for granted, we’re just not there yet.

Let us know what you’re thankful for in the comments.

Image by mikecco.