worshiping as members of local churches and temples.
Arc refers to
this as inclusion. People with developmental disabilities are
the same aspects of life that people without disabilities enjoy.
1950s, when a mother gave birth to a child with a disability, she was
told to "take the child home and love him/her" or place the child in
a state hospital and forget that you had him/her. The implication
was that the child did not belong in society. Indeed, many children
with disabilities were sent to State Hospitals where they were
Some insightful parents saw this injustice and
founded A.R.C. - The Association for Retarded Children. These
parents were the
first advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. Over
the years the name has changed from ARC - The Association for Retarded
Children to The Association for Retarded Citizens and finally to:
The Arc - an agency providing support, education, and advocacy
to persons with developmental disabilities and their
Advocacy - the results have long term implications!
The name changes followed our growth in recognizing that this was bigger
than just helping children. Arc recognized that we need to be advocating
from pre-birth to post death for the rights of people with developmental
disabilities. Often when Arc advocates stand up for a person who is
receiving poor services, whether it is educational, residential,
employment, or any other situation that is not just, two things happen:
- The situation is resolved and the personís situation improves
- the provider sees that changes need to be made to ensure that
others don't have that same experience. The result is that the
community changes and becomes more inclusive.
Over the past 50+ years Arc has handled thousands of advocacy situations.
Thousands of people have seen their personal situation improve.
The sum total of the institutional changes that occurred as well has
had a profound impact on our community. We used to boast that "We have
changed Society". It wasn't boasting - it is true. Our communities
today have support and understanding that the founding parents could
only have dreamed of.
The work is not done. But we are working at a higher level than in years
past. People with developmental disabilities are not "included" without
programs and support in place. Fifty years ago these changes were being
made by local ARCs. Today Arc Southeastern Minnesota continues to advocate,
monitor, and encourage services that are needed for people to enjoy
community life as others do. The support system today includes:
- Residential - There are dozens of housing providers in Southeastern
Minnesota. Many of these organizations were created by Local Arcs
(Arc Olmsted, Arc Winona, Arc Houston, etc.). Even if they were not
created by Arc, they were supported and encouraged by Arc.
- Employment - Again, Local Arcs were instrumental in developing or
encouraging Employment Providers. In some cases job provision was in
place for people with physical disabilities and Arc encouraged these
agencies to expand to include developmental disabilities.
- Recreation and Socialization Providers - Local Arcs have helped many
communities develop a wide variety of recreation and socialization
opportunities ranging from specialized programs designed for persons
with developmental disabilities to inclusive programs sponsored by
typical community providers such as park and recreation departments,
community education, and private providers.
- Transportation Assistance - Transportation has long been an impediment
to an inclusive life for people with developmental disabilities. Local
Arcs, again, were the impetus for getting these services in place in
All of these agencies are a part of the provider network that makes
inclusive life possible for people with disabilities. Many of the
advances we have made, help people with physical disabilities as well.
Think of this network as a family of providers. We work together and
appreciate what each agency brings to the table. I think of Arc as the
mother. At times, Arc advocacy will "get in someoneís face" and suggest
that changes in a situation need to be made. The providers expect it.
They want their services to be top-notch as well.
Arc needs your financial support - think about a recurring
Advocacy is one of our most important services. Arc is the only agency
that looks at a personís entire life -from pre-birth to post-death, from
education to employment, from family home to residential living, from
specialized recreation to inclusive socialization. As advocates, we
must avoid conflicts of interest whenever possible. That makes finding
funding for advocacy very difficult.
Arc depends on local businesses and citizenry for its support. We are
truly the "mother agency" that has had it's fingers in every new program
or service for people with developmental disabilities. The community must
realize that Arc is indispensable - We are at the "heart" of the disability
service and support network. Individuals with developmental disabilities
depend on our advocacy to ensure they continue to live productive and
"included" lives. The many agencies that provide services and support
are near and dear to us. In many cases, they are here because we
recognized the need. But if services falter, Arc will be there to
advocate for change.
Make a commitment! Help Arc for the long term. Give a recurring contribution.
Discuss this with Arne Fockler via the Arc office:
ALSO SEE: The Bishop Family - a Plea for Needed Services