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February 2012 E-News

 

Hello friends and readers, Sylvia F

The focus this month has been on learning and trying new things. Whether it is the current ACT class learning about community systems, a new advocate going to Olympia or the fresh look for our newsletter, people are stepping out and learning new things. 

This month, we want to challenge you to try something new and make your voice heard in fresh ways. The Arc is offering free bus rides on February 8 and 22 down to Olympia for two special Advocacy Days: 

  • February 8: Employment Day
  • February 22: Independent Living Day Rally
To RSVP or for more information, please contact Eric Matthes, Coordinator of Advocacy, at 206-829-7044 or by email.

Also, please save the date on your calendars for the upcoming Annual General Meeting on March 20th and for our 5th Annual Legacy Luncheon on May 24!
 
Please join us!

 sylviaSIGNATURE
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Eric is on King 5 News!

Since our last e-news, Target and Nordstrom received attention for their ads featuring a young boy named Ryan who happened to have Down Syndrome. Both companies have been applauded in many news and blog articles for the fact that no one made a big deal of the young model. King 5 News showed up at The Arc to check in with Eric Matthes, Coordinator of Advocacy, regarding his thoughts on the advertisements: 

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ACT Class Update

ACT Dec 2011 3
 
ACT participants in Olympia Dec 1-3, 2011

Top row left to right: Linda Custer, Aimee Sharp, Christine Carroll, Linda Rubin, Nate Schario, Sandy Aspen, Cynthia Johnson,
Danielle Olson

Middle row left to right: Carolyn James, Kelly Hill, Abdulkariem Ahmach , Safira Ahmach,

Bottom row left to right: Nizar Hasan Ali, Blair Maurer, Betsy McAlister, Catalina Angel, Roland Wise, Leslie Miller

Not pictured: Rebecca Leavitt

By Betsy McCalister and Catalina Angel, Co-Coordinators of ACT

The Arc of King County Advocating for Change (ACT) is a local leadership development program for family members and people with developmental disabilities. Right now, ACT is halfway through the scheduled workshop sessions. Currently, 11 family members, four self-advocates, and two professionals meet once a month on Friday evening and all day Saturday to learn about services systems, to meet local leaders in our community, and to learn about the principles of access, inclusion and self-determination.  

  • September - The group focused on the history of the developmental disabilities movement and the civil rights movement.

  • October - We discussed government systems and how funding can sometimes limit one’s vision for a meaningful life.

  • December - The group met in Olympia for the weekend and practiced legislative advocacy by learning about bills and budgets. This year was especially eventful with the special legislative session occurring during the December training in Olympia.

  • January - The session focused on Community systems such as education, transition, and employment.

  • Coming Up! February - This session is always popular as self-advocates share their vision and lessons for self-determination and self advocacy. “Nothing about me without me” is an important theme for the weekend. Other remaining sessions will focus on employment, housing, transportation and systems advocacy.  

These weekend sessions require commitment and dedication to foster new advocacy capacity throughout our state. As co-coordinators we wanted to thank all of the participants for their commitment and hard work during the leadership program. This project is supported by a grant from the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council and County.

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Notes From The Bus

 By Robert Page

On January 25, six people boarded a bus to Olympia to make a difference. I was one of them. My name is Robert Page and I am an advocate. Officially I work for The Arc as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). I don’t make any claims to know much about politics, and I learned my legislator’s name on the way to Olympia. I was happily unaware of the extent of the proposed budget cuts. I went armed with my ability to quickly learn, decide, and formulate opinions, and an open heart to grow.

Eric (Matthes) challenged me. He said, "Make an appointment to talk with your Legislator and I’ll give you an Arc of King County pen". It’s a nice pen, but it’s the weight of that challenge that I savored. If I were to make an appointment to talk with someone with such limited time then I had better have something important to say. He then handed out a descriptive page of budget cuts and proposed bills. I was awestruck. Please don’t get me wrong. It was not the kind of awestruck that happens when someone is impressed with the human capacity for compassion. It was the jaw dropping sense of disappointment that one gets when faced with extreme absurdity. I was brought up to believe that the value of a society is measured by how that society cares for its most vulnerable members. I was sadly disappointed.

My disappointment was the beginning of a process. I found myself moving from thinking that “someone else will handle it” to asking “what can I do?” After all, with knowledge comes responsibility. I know that working as a DSP and helping individuals live full lives is a great start. So then my question became, “What more can I do?” In my mind, this is a pinnacle question for all willing to ask it, “After having done everything that I can do, what more can I do?”

Eric is a great resource. He answered a lot of questions. And, while in Olympia, he served as an amazing educator. Talk with him or a member of the team. I would encourage everyone who can physically attend to join the next two trips and be a voice for The Arc, for yourself, and for our community. Write letters. Contact politicians. Find a way to use your voice and to put faces behind numbers. Tell your story with confidence and pride. Just know that YOUR voice is THE voice that needs to be heard.

Thank you, Eric, for being such a great guide!

 
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"Just know that YOUR voice is THE voice that needs to be heard."
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Make Your Mark in March!

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Thanks to the advocacy efforts of The Arc in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan officially declared March to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987. For nearly a quarter of a century, The Arc and its network of 700+ chapters across the country, including The Arc of King County, have fostered respect and access for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We have made tremendous progress in promoting and protecting the rights of people with I/DD and creating opportunities for them to live, learn and work as valued members of their communities. But there is much work left to do. 

In 2012, a pivotal national election year, we are fighting to protect support systems in the face of tough economic times and drastic budget cuts. Since many people with disabilities rely on publicly funded services to fully participate in their communities, policymakers and candidates need to know you concerned about continuing these vital services. Take advantage of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to make your mark on this election by getting involved and getting active today. 

What Can You Do? 

  • Jump in. Contact The Arc of King County to volunteer or donate
  • Speak out. Contact your legislator or candidate today and let them know you expect them to support public policy to assist people with I/DD. 
  • Spread the word. Educate yourself about issues important to the I/DD community then tell the world what you found out. Use March as a great excuse to post your positive thoughts about the I/DD movement on your Facebook page or Twitter account. Follow The Arc of King County on Facebook and Twitter and express yourself. Or go “old-school” with a good, old-fashioned letter to the editor of your local newspaper explaining to your community why they should care about I/DD. 

Join us during March to help raise awareness. Find out more about I/DD and what you can do at www.arcofkingcounty.org today!

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The Arc of King County
233 6th Ave N
Seattle, WA  98109

T: 206.364.6337 | F: 206.364.8140
Toll-Free: 1.877.964.0600 | TTY: 1.877.666.2348

www.arcofkingcounty.org 

Share Your Story

Do you have a story, news article, or photo you'd like to share with readers?

Send your story to Adrianne Oglesby at aoglesby@arcofkingcounty.org or call 206-829-7008 for more information.

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233 Sixth Ave. N.
Seattle, Washington 98109
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