Local chapters of The Arc are recognizing their clients and promoting inclusion throughout March, which is Developmental Disabilities Month.
The Arc has over 700 chapters nationwide, including those in Fayette, Washington and Greene counties.
“Individuals with disabilities have the same types of likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams, goals, hobbies, etc. as people without disabilities,” said Brenda Fike, administrative specialist with Fayette County’s chapter. “They want to control their life, have the freedom to make their own choices, be healthy and safe and feel connected to their family and community.”
Throughout March, Fike said, The Arc of Fayette County will hold open houses, rallies, and work to educate the public on how offensive it is to use the word “retarded” as a slur.
“We’ve done many things all designed to raise awareness and to highlight the incredible people we get to work with,” she said of The Arc’s approximately 100 clients. “This year we wanted to blast social media with not only what we do at Arc, but more importantly what our individuals can do, and how they are a significant and valuable part of the community.”
Fike said they’re making at least one post per day featuring a client, sharing who they are and highlighting their abilities, and including videos of some of their talents.
“Like you and I, (our clients) want to be supported, to be heard, to show off their talents, have relationships and build a life of independence and purpose,” Fike said. “In short, they’re not that different from you or me, they just need a different type of support to achieve their dreams.”
Fike said Fayette’s Arc is on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. The organization also has its own YouTube channel.
Like Fayette County, the goal of Washington County’s Arc is the creation of a community where everyone can be included and feel a sense of belonging without being held back by stigmas or stereotypes.
“Throughout March, as well as throughout every month, The Arc of Washington County promotes inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities,” Advocacy Director Darrilyn McCrerey said.
McCrerey urged people to ask themselves how they can spread inclusion.
“Be a friend, welcome someone to sit with you, include someone in being a part of something, celebrate similarities and differences, appreciate everyone’s worth, join together for a common goal, say, ‘Hello.’ The possibilities to include are endless,” McCrerey said.
The Arc of Washington County is also using social media to amplify its voice. In addition, the organization is sharing the website Spread the Word (www.spreadtheword.global/) where people can pledge to make inclusion a reality for all people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.
McCrerey said they also have a poster for community members to sign and make a pledge in the front entrance of Chicco Baccello in Canonsburg, which is housed in their office building.
“We have ongoing posts on social media throughout the month to raise awareness, promote inclusion, share educational material and creative arts opportunities,” she said. “We have also partnered with Washington Health System by providing materials for them to distribute to their physicians as well as post on their social media.”
She added that, for their March monthly “Self-Advocacy in Action” meeting, they will be welcoming a special guest presenter, Adam Blank, to share his inspirational story.
“Adam will share his story of overcoming obstacles and encourage audience members to believe they can accomplish anything, regardless of their circumstances,” she said.
Rounding out the month, McCrerey said they’ll have inclusive art classes in their “Connecting through Inspiration” Art Gallery that includes drawing concepts and techniques, abstract landscapes with acrylics and water colors.
For additional information, visit The Arc of Washington County at www.arcofwashpa.org or The Arc of Fayette at arcfayette.org.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.