Countdown to Convention 2010

E-Newsletter Issue Date: Monday, October 11, 2010

We’re pleased to honor Margaret-Lee Thompson as the 2010 Advocacy Matters! Award winner and welcome Administration on Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Sharon Lewis, both of whom will address the 2010 Convention Plenary session on Friday morning, November 5th.

And, that’s just what we have in store for Friday morning! Register now so you don’t miss out on what these accomplished women have to share.

The Arc Convention 2010 Sponsored By: Hammer Travel, AGS, Mutual of America, MetLife, Blackbaud, 501C Agencies Trust, The HSC Foundation, Diversified Nonprofit Services, and Essential Learning.

The Arc FINDS Update

E-Newsletter Issue Date: Thursday, August 19, 2010

We are thrilled that as of this afternoon, The Arc has heard from more than 3,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families on The FINDS  (Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports) Survey.  This unprecedented national study will help The Arc engage individuals with I/DD and their families in a meaningful way to understand what they need, what services and supports they have, and what they want for their futures.  But, we have a goal of over 5,000 respondents, a goal that requires your support.   And this time, its free!

We still need to tap those states that have fewer than 100 responses to date to help get the word out.  Do you live in any of these states?  Help us make sure that those with I/DD and their family members and/or caregivers participate in this survey today: 

AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MH, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NH,  NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PR, RI, SC, SD, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, and WY.

Chapters of The Arc and organizations collaborating with us on outreach efforts are doing a great job in getting the word out!  Our partner organizations which are helping us to promote The Arc FINDS:

  • American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
  • Autistic Self Advocate Network
  • Best Buddies
  • Exceptional Family Member Program (Department of Defense)
  • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services
  • National Military Family Association
  • Office on Disability Employment Policy in the Department of Labor
  • Self Advocates Becoming Empowered
  • The Sibling Support Project

Ann Cameron Caldwell, Chief Research and Innovations Officer for The Arc, is directing the survey and its evaluation.  “The information gleaned from the survey will help identify—and document—nationally, by state and locally what families want in terms of needed services and supports. This information, including personal stories, will be valuable in informing and supporting ongoing program development, advocacy and policy work,” said Dr. Caldwell, who is the parent of a teenager with Down syndrome.

We urge individuals with I/DD, family members, caregivers and others to participate in The Arc FINDS survey.  Questions?  Contact Ann Cameron Caldwell at 202.534.3711 or

Click here to access the survey.

A 'Glee-ful' Convention in Orlando

E-newsletter Issue Date:  Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Excitement is building around The Arc’s National Convention in Orlando, Florida from November 3-6, 2010!  Actors Lauren Potter and Robin Trocki from the cast of the hit show Glee will be honored at Convention with The Arc’s Inclusion & Image Award  in recognition of their achievements in television for breaking down barriers, increasing awareness and shattering stereotypes.

Actor Jane Lynch (coach Sue Sylvester on Glee) will appear at Convention via video from Los Angeles to deliver a special message to attendees.

Lauren Potter plays ‘Becky Jackson,’ a special education student with Down syndrome who is accepted onto the ‘Cheerios’ high school cheerleading squad.  Through her character, viewers of Glee are enlightened about inclusion in schools and in the community.  Coach Sue Sylvester treats ‘Becky’ like every other cheerleader – pushing her to her limits and never going easy on her because of her disability.

Robin Trocki portrays ‘Jean,’ the sister of Sue Sylvester.  Robin, who has Down syndrome, advances the show’s storyline in understanding the motivations and hidden positive qualities of Sue, the show’s lead character and nemesis.

Convention promises to be a unique and unforgettable celebration marking six decades of unmatched service, support and advocacy for Americans with I/DD. This year’s Convention theme, A Clear Way Forward, charts a path for a vibrant future while recognizing the groundbreaking accomplishments of the past.

Where better than sunny Orlando, Florida at the Hilton to gather to celebrate The Arc@60?  Headquartered just steps away from the Walt Disney World ® Resort, Convention will offer attendees and their families many opportunities for play at Disney’s popular attractions.

Join us in Orlando for a host of exciting, inspiring and informative Convention program of activities, including a gala evening event in honor of The Arc’s 60th anniversary hosted by The Arc and The Arc of Florida on Thursday, November 4.

Learn more about the program and register.

A Three, Two, One, Launch!

E-newsletter Issue Date:  Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The 45 Sub-Grantees of the Walmart Foundation School-to-Community Transition Project—that were chosen to receive Sub-Grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 from the $3 million grant awarded to The Arc of the United States gathered from local and state chapters across the country in Baltimore, Maryland on Friday, April 16 to launch their community initiatives.

“There was an incredible amount of energy in the room—the chapters are excited and energized by the opportunity to advance the transition outcomes for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their communities,” said Tonia Ferguson, Special Projects Manager for Walmart Foundation School-to-Community Transition Project at The Arc.

Becky Tyksinski, Director of Communications, The Arc in Hawaii told the awardees of the diverse constituency they serve in two very different islands in the State of Hawaii: Oahu and Hawaii. Oahu is a highly urban environment with the majority of the State’s population, while Hawaii has a rural, geographically dispersed setting.

She illustrated how the initiative's goals and strategies will work in her communities on a chart that included a red and white flowered lei Tyksinski brought from Hawaii. With funds from the Walmart Foundation, The Arc in Hawaii and The Arc of Kona will work with five project high schools on the two islands: two on Oahu (The Arc in Hawaii) and three on Hawaii (The Arc of Kona.) Their project outcomes are:

  • Transition 90% of eligible students with intellectual and developmental disabilities from project high schools into the Developmental Disabilities Division service system prior to graduation from high school.
  • Increase off-campus work experience of students in project high schools by 30 percent.
  • Find competitive employment or self-employment for 35 students from project high schools within 24 months after graduation from high school.

The Arc of Prince George’s County in Maryland presented its goals for its Ready@21 Program and their partnering with the Prince George’s Community College and the Prince George’s County Schools. Melonee Clark, Family Specialist with The Arc of Prince George’s County shared some of the activities in which students would participate including:

  • Developing an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that will outline skills needed in the area of
        education, employment and community living.
  • Completing career assessments.
  • Exposing students to a variety of employment activities on the college campus through workforce development classes, and community employers such as Walmart.
  • Among their program outcome goals are students having resumes by the end of the program and achieving at least one goal from their IDP.

The Sub-Grants represent an incredible opportunity for chapters to really shine. All of the awardees shared initiatives that are dynamic, innovative and sure to make a difference in the lives of young people,” said Nichole Goble, Special Projects Assistant for the Walmart Foundation School- to- Community Transition Project.

The Arc Takes Rosa’s Law to the White House

E-newsletter Issue Date:  Friday, February 26, 2010

In February, when news reports disclosed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s use of the “r-word” it set off a firestorm of outrage among disability rights advocates.  And, The Arc, led by Chief Executive Officer Peter Berns, joined other disability rights activists, self-advocates and family members in a meeting with Emanuel at the White House.

The delegation received an apology from Emanuel for his remarks, which were made in a meeting with Congressional leaders on health care reform.  The Arc gained a pledge from the administration to consider the passage of Rosa’s Law.

Rosa’s Law was introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) in November 2009 to replace the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” with “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability in federal health, education, and labor policy statutes.

The Arc of the United States is advocating for the passage of the bipartisan bill.  “This bill is very important for people with intellectual disabilities who understand that language plays a crucial role in how they are perceived and treated in society and are actively advocating for terminology changes in federal and state laws,” says Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc.

It was a Maryland teenager who got the ball rolling on state legislation on terminology and whose sister was the inspiration for the naming of the bill before Congress. The Maryland state legislature amended the official language to “individual with an intellectual disability.”

“Retard, ‘retarded’ and ‘retardation,’ once accepted medical terms, are now only used to demean and insult people.  The Arc believes that changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their basic human and civil rights,” Berns says.

The Arc continues to lead the charge in changing attitudes and recently the organization took on another high profile figure that used the “r-word.”  In a letter to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, The Arc invited him to meet with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families for a candid conversation on how the word negatively impacts their lives.  The Arc is still awaiting a response from Limbaugh.

Nick and Rosa’s mom, Nina Marcellino has said the issue is larger than changing language.  “It was more than words to us,” Marcellino says.  “We all felt like you cannot separate what you call people from how you treat people.  Attitudes have been changing and everybody felt that with a new term, it was a new beginning.”