The Arc Takes Bellevue, Washington by Storm

Self-Advocates working togetherEarlier this month, The Arc’s network of disability advocates and professionals descended on Bellevue, Washington for The Arc’s Annual Convention. The three day event was an exciting mixture of education, inspiration, and of course fun.

As always, having more than 600 of our advocates joining together proved to be a moving and powerful experience.  There is no better way to see the diversity and power of our network than when our chapters join together and share their many accomplishments. While our chapters have a lot of variety, they have a lot in common.  Convention allowed many to see how our chapters are working with National Initiatives of The Arc in different locations across the country for a common cause. Many of our chapters even had the opportunity to present together during concurrent sessions on a variety of topics including sibling workshops, self-advocacy programs, and technology.

A highlight of the weekend for many was getting to know Buzz and Zach Bissinger. The honesty and heart with which Buzz wrote Father’s Day was present when Buzz gave his keynote address. While Buzz and Zach captivated the audience, the event was also special for them.  When you attend one of our national events you leave knowing more about The Arc and its robust network.  We leave an impression on everyone we touch.

This year’s technology focus was also a great hit with amazing tech demos from The Arc of Baltimore, The Microsoft Store, and The Coleman Institute. Exclusive access to the Microsoft store gave a select group of attendees some hands on experience and training from experts.  And, our closing plenary offered amazing insights from Jack P. McArtney, Director, Corporate & Community Responsibility; Global Corporate Citizenship Group of Verizon, Inc. and Dan Hubbell, Sr. Marketing Manager for Microsoft’s Accessibility Group.

To wrap things up, we rolled out The Arc’s red carpet prior to The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival! Self-advocates, other attendees, and national staff strutted their stuff on the red carpet and brought a bit of Hollywood glam to our closing event.

Planning is already in the works for 2014’s Convention in New Orleans from, September 30 – October 2. Save the date and join us for another exciting event!

Disability Advocates and Professionals to Descend on Bellevue for The Arc’s Annual Convention

Thursday_Panel4Next week, The Arc’s National Convention will kick off in Bellevue, Washington with more than 500 disability advocates, professionals, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) coming together to learn, forge connections, and energize the disability movement. The theme, Achieving Momentum, captures what The Arc is all about – empowering people with I/DD to achieve their dreams by continuously moving forward on issues that help them achieve independence and be included in society.

“The Arc’s convention is a once a year chance to bring our network of 700 chapters and their members and professionals together for a unique experience.  This year, we have a wonderful array of sessions focused on family relationships, technology, and advocacy, and plenty of opportunities for attendees to learn from each other and have some fun,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

This three day event, which will take place from August 3-5, will include:

  • a keynote address by award-winning author Buzz Bissinger, whose recent book Father’s Day chronicles his relationship with son Zach, who has multiple disabilities;
  • honoring Illinois Governor Pat Quinn with our Advocacy Matters award for his work to offer people with I/DD the opportunity to live in a community of their choice;
  • a special visit via video by Andrew Jenks, creator of MTV’s World of Jenks, a documentary style show that features a young man with autism as he transitions from high school to the world of work, dating, and being an adult.  Jenks is this year’s recipient of The Arc’s Image and Inclusion Award for positive portrayal of people with I/DD in the media;
  • a technology emphasis with guest speakers from Verizon, a sponsor of this year’s convention, and Microsoft, and the opportunity for attendees to have a hands-on technology experience at the Microsoft store, in Bellevue Square Mall,  during a private class just for attendees ; and
  • Red Hot on the Red Carpet and The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival.  We’re rolling out the red carpet again as a lead-in to our always popular film festival featuring shorts for, by and about people with I/DD.

“We are excited to serve as the local host committee for The Arc’s national convention. This marks the first time this national event has returned to our state since 1956.  The Arc of Washington State is proud to have been instrumental in establishing the national organization over 60 years ago, and we look forward to many more years of growth and positive change that such a strong national partnership brings,” said Sue Elliott, Executive Director of The Arc of Washington State.

Top Technology Companies Coming to Convention

Dan Hubbell

Dan Hubbell, Sr. Marketing Manager for Microsoft’s Accessibility Group

Verizon and Microsoft will be joining The Arc at our National Convention August 3-5 in Bellevue, Washington for a program focused on technology, innovation and Achieving Momentum in the movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Convention attendees will hear from Jack P. McArtney, Director, Corporate & Community Responsibility; Global Corporate Citizenship Group of Verizon, Inc. who will kick off a technology-focused plenary session with thoughts on the new role of corporate social responsibility as a technology company.  And, Dan Hubbell, Sr. Marketing Manager for Microsoft’s Accessibility Group will speak about the newest assistive technology for individuals with disabilities.  Known as the Technical Evangelist for the Accessibility Business Unit at Microsoft, Dan is sure to infect all with his enthusiasm for innovation when it comes to making life better for people with I/DD.  Both men will participate in a panel discussion giving you an opportunity to ask your most pressing technology questions and capping off a Convention full of information and inspiration.

In addition to these noted speakers, this year’s Convention features demonstrations of cutting-edge assistive technology, breakout sessions on cloud computing, tablets and applications, visual story-telling, transitioning to a paperless office and more technology topics. This year’s Convention is shaping up to be a don’t-miss event with the addition of Verizon and Microsoft to an already stimulating program featuring acclaimed author Buzz Bissinger and sessions on innovations in family support, cultural diversity, building our grassroots movement and more.

Check out the full schedule and register now! Be sure to book your room at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue before July 2 and take advantage of early registration discounts before July 5, but there’s still time to save.

National Convention Preconference Dedicated to Self Advocacy

Joe Meadours at ConventionThe Arc’s annual National Convention kicks off August 3 with a preconference dedicated to fostering self-advocacy among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Join us on Seattle’s East Side for “Oh, the Possibilities: Self-Advocates as Leaders in Your Community”  hosted by The National Council of Self-Advocates of The Arc.

We will explore the all of the possibilities for self-advocate leaders in the community with training on effective communication, networking, building leadership skills, developing funding for self-advocacy group startups, and a demonstration of Self-Advocacy Online, a website dedicated to the self-advocacy movement. Don’t miss a special presentation of the history of the disability movement and civil rights and an art activity to get the crowd going as well.

Register now! A separate preconference registration is required in addition to your Convention registration but is only $15 for self-advocates! And, take advantage of early bird discounts on Convention registration when you sign up before July 5! Get the full Convention schedule and check out the other special events we have planned at www.thearc.org/convention.

Red Hot on the Red Carpet Returns to Convention in 2013

Red Hot on the Red CarpetFor those of you who attended The Arc’s 2012 National Convention in Washington, D.C., you may remember the “Red Hot on the Red Carpet” event leading up to The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival. Convention attendees had a chance to walk the “red carpet,” pose for paparazzi photos and even be interviewed by The Arc’s version of Ryan Seacrest.

Just take a look at these pictures of everyone hamming it up with feather boas, Hollywood-style sunglasses and their own “Academy Awards.” It was an evening to remember and such a popular part of that year’s festivities that we’re bringing it back for an encore.

The Arc’s National Convention in Bellevue, Washington (on Seattle’s East Side) this August 3-5 will again feature a “Red Hot on the Red Carpet” event. And, we will again treat attendees to a screening of short films by, about and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival.  Don’t miss this special evening of fun to cap off three full days of innovative and enlightening sessions at this annual gathering of the I/DD community.

We’re expecting 700 or more individuals with I/DD, family members, professionals in the field and staff from The Arc’s chapter network along with special guest, acclaimed author Buzz Bissinger. Sessions will focus on technology, advocacy and public policy, supporting families, employment and more. Plus there are two pre-conferences dedicated to self-advocacy and leadership. Check out the full schedule and register now at www.thearc.org/convention. Take advantage of early bird discounted rates when you register before July 5.

There’s a Buzz Building around The Arc’s National Convention

Buzz Bissinger and son Zach

Buzz Bissinger with son Zach

Planning is well underway for The Arc’s annual National Convention August 3-5 outside of Seattle, WA. And we’re already starting to hear a buzz about the program we have planned for you this year. People are starting to talk about our keynote speaker, Buzz Bissinger.

The excitement is building to have such a noted best-selling author (Three Nights in August, Friday Night Lights) speak to The Arc about his latest book. But Buzz Bissinger is not just a celebrity, he’s a parent. His sons Zach and Gerry were born prematurely in 1983 and Zach was born with significant intellectual disabilities. Recently, Buzz set out to document his special relationship with Zach in the book Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind & Heart of My Extraordinary Son. The story revolves around a cross-country road trip Buzz planned to revisit all of the places they had been together during Zach’s life. During the trip, Zach ultimately teaches Buzz a vital lesson: character transcends intellect. Buzz comes to realize that Zach’s approach to life, while different, has a sturdy logic that deserves to be respected.

Father’s Day will resonate with any parent who has a child that is “different.” And all parents will recognize themselves in Buzz as he wrestles with the questions that tug at every mother and father as their children grow up. The Arc’s National Convention is your chance to hear Buzz’s perspective on what it means to be a parent of a child with I/DD so make plans now to join us in August. Find out more about the full program, other planned special events and register today at www.thearc.org/convention.

You’re Invited to Achieve Momentum at The Arc’s National Convention

2013 National ConventionWhat does it take to achieve momentum in your life, in your work, and in the movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

Join The Arc for a National Convention filled with innovative ways to help you do just that – new information, new programs, new technol­ogy, and new ways for you to keep moving forward toward your goals! Register now to attend the premiere event for the intellectual and developmental disability movement in Bellevue, Washington just outside of Seattle August 3-5 and join hundreds of other individuals, families, advocates, experts and professionals in the field for three days of informative sessions, unique events and opportunities to connect. Here are just a few reasons to make your reservations now:

  • Cutting-edge technology demonstrations – discover the latest technology innovations from organizations like Verizon, Microsoft and more – and examples of creative ways chapters of The Arc are using assistive technology.
  • Dozens of sessions focused on supporting self-advocacy, cultural diversity, building our grassroots network, using technol­ogy and innovations in family support.
  • A vibrant Marketplace with goods and services catering to you including The Arc Store and Entrepreneur Alley which spotlights microbusinesses run by individuals with I/DD.
  • Meet-and-greet events just for self-advocates and siblings hosted by The Arc’s National Council of Self Advocates and National Sibling Council.
  • Red Hot on the Red Carpet and The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival – we’re bringing back a crowd favorite from 2012 and rolling out the red carpet again as a lead in to our always popular film festival featuring shorts for, by and about people with I/DD.
  • A Night of Laughter and Dance: an opening night event from our local host with live entertainment from Jet City Improv and two local bands with self-advocate musicians.

And, if you book before July 5, you can take advantage of registration discounts and special room rates at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue on Seattle’s East Side. See you there!

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors: CARF, Essential Learning, Hammer Travel, Marsh, MediSked, MetLife, and Rest Assured

Be a presenter at this year’s convention!

We are currently seeking proposals for innovative, motivating, and interactive presentations for our 2013 National Convention in Bellevue, Washington. Next year’s theme “Achieving Momentum” reflects The Arc’s continuing progress and forward movement. Each year, we are growing not only as an organization but as a grassroots movement working in communities across the country to promote our mission. Utilizing new technologies and innovative programs, we are extending our reach and more importantly making more of an impact.

The Arc encourages proposals that reflect our core values, involve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), family members, advocates and/or professionals, and/or provide opportunities for participants to walk away with a vision and concrete plan for action.

As we continue to achieve momentum in all we do as an organization, we have specific topics we want to discuss during next year’s convention:

  • Technology: Presentations/Sessions that introduce and/or educate individuals about how technology can improve the lives of individuals with I/DD by assisting them in school, work, recreational activities, and facilitate better inclusion in their communities either through assistive technology, online educational tools or better communications and operations systems for more effective delivery of services.
  • Family Support: Presentations/Sessions that demonstrate creative supports for family members as they work to help promote their loved ones’ full inclusion in the community. This can include community activities or groups, programs, community tools or online resources that can be utilized by family members to assist them with advocating for their family members, communicating with their family members and each other, planning for the future and accessing services and supports.
  • Chapter Innovations: Presentations/Sessions that demonstrate innovative programming or initiatives of chapters of The Arc or collaborations with community partners which are propelling the intellectual and developmental disability community forward, either by providing innovative avenues for inclusion, increased competitive employment, better and/or more efficient services and supports, or the development of innovative leadership, collaboration, fundraising/friend-raising, or operational activities that can serve as best practice examples for other nonprofit organizations.
  • Growing the Grassroots: Presentations/Sessions that demonstrate progressive and impactful advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the local, state, regional or national level through the development and mobilization of a strong grassroots advocacy community.

Please keep in mind that concurrent sessions will be held between August 2-4, 2013. As a presenter, you must be available on these dates. We encourage self-advocate participation in all sessions as participants and presenters. Submit your application using this form.

The deadline for submission of presentation ideas is February 1, 2013. Selection of presentations will take place on or about March 29, 2013. Please contact Laurie Edson, Director of Chapter Excellence: edson@thearc.org if you have any questions.

Do You Want to be a Presenter at Next Year’s Convention?

Did you have a great time at convention this year but leave wishing you could have participated in a bigger way? Well you are in luck because we are currently seeking proposals for innovative, motivating, and interactive presentations for our 2013 National Convention in Bellevue, Washington. Next year’s theme “Achieving Momentum” reflects The Arc’s continuing progress and forward movement. Each year, we are growing not only as an organization but as a grassroots movement working in communities across the country to promote our mission. Utilizing new technologies and innovative programs, we are extending our reach and more importantly making more of an impact.

Please keep in mind that concurrent sessions will be held between August 2-4, 2013. As a presenter, you must be available on these dates. We encourage self-advocate participation in all sessions as participants and presenters. Submit your application using this form.

The deadline for submission of presentation ideas is February 1, 2013. Selection of presentations will take place on or about March 29, 2013.