As 2011 comes to an end, there is much to reflect on. I’d like to thank many of you who have supported the activities of The Arc of Massachusetts. Thank you for all you do as donors, activists, colleagues and friends.
How to describe 2011 in terms of advancing community opportunities for persons with disabilities? Like our neighbors in this economy, we had to fight against setbacks. We have seen good friends pass away including Lou Nisenbaum, Allen Crocker, Hal Demone among others. But their spirit and the empowerment of change agents and friends can be a source of encouragement.
We can be hopeful for 2012 especially if we keep our eyes on the real human needs our friends face and the strategies to support them. We can make this the “year of empowerment” and educate those in our circle about the solve-able challenges we face. The history of disabilities’ empowerment and services may reflect bumps in the road but it also reflects great and varied accomplishments. In Massachusetts, The Arc has been proud to play a key role in many of them. Here we have a slice of Massachusetts stories.
55 years ago, legislation passed authorizing the Department of Mental Health to operate fourteen pre-school clinical nurseries
50 years ago, The Arc convinced Massachusetts policy makers to become the first state to establish testing and treatment for PKU (an inherited metabolic disease that can be treated) and PKU prevention became a national disability model for the U.S.
40 years ago, the Massachusetts Special Education Law (Ch. 766), the first such law in the nation, was enacted.
30 years ago, Home and Community based waivers were established and we fought to ensure that a community system of services would be established; Turning 22 or Chapter 688 became law and more than $10 million annually is appropriated
20 years ago, the Rolland settlement began implementation, assisting more than 1500 persons out of nursing homes, and,
10 years ago, the Boulet Wait List Settlement began to be implemented, assisting more than 2000 persons to obtain services.
Help us maintain this tradition of advocacy and empowerment. Support The Arc financially, participate as an activist and considering volunteering –there is much to do. You can submit an online donation here. We will share a calendar of event in 2012’s notes so you can join us in advocacy and celebration as your time and resources allow.
I want us to end the year with two great items (among several) which are on the web – Susan Senator’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post – “Tiger Mother to a Son with Autism” (check out her books too!) and a video from Nathan Bauer of Hammer, MN on The Arc site where Nathan shares a visit from Senator Al Franken.
My best wishes to you for 2012 – and let’s join together to make it a year of empowerment!
Photo Note: Michael Collins, UMASS Medical School Chancellor, Leo Sarkissian, Sen. Ted Kennedy and James Brett, CEO of New England Council.