We at Arc West Central are proud to join advocates across the country to recognize March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This month commemorates the progress in improving the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and highlights the challenges that remain in achieving full inclusion.
The Arc’s advocacy efforts were crucial to President Ronald Reagan’s signing of a proclamation in 1987 affirming that “Americans are becoming increasingly aware that such disabilities need not keep individuals from realizing their full potential in school, at work or at home, as members of their families and of their communities.”
This month, we join more than 700 chapters of The Arc nationwide and advocate with and on behalf of individuals with I/DD. Their right to live, learn, and work as they choose must not be ignored. These individuals are our neighbors, colleagues, friends and family members and we must ensure that they have a fair opportunity to achieve their dreams. While there has been much progress over the years, there is still much to be done. We hope the community will join our efforts and help us raise awareness.
Sixty years ago when The Arc was founded, parents and other concerned individuals had to work to alter the perceptions of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to educate parents and others regarding the potential of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Arc also worked to procure services for children and adults who were denied an education, the right to attend day care and preschools, and the right to work.
The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. This is an ongoing effort that requires all of us to be vigilant and spread awareness of those rights.
Developmental Disabilities Month is our time to make a difference. Together lets change hearts and minds in March.