The second Arc service being highlighted is advocacy. Since 1966, The Arc of LaGrange County has worked to create opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to live meaningful lives.
Locally, regionally, and nationally The Arc of LaGrange County lends its voice to the call for the creation of an inclusive and accessible society. CEO Debra Seman noted that the local agency is an advocacy organization that ardently works to ensure that the rights and abilities of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are acknowledged and respected.
Advocacy is essential in maintaining or improving the quality of life for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities may need support of advocates at different points and times of their lives.
It’s never too early to start planning for the future.
Understanding how special education works, and what your rights are, is important to know during your child’s school years. Children with disabilities have a federal guarantee under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.
The role of the advocate is to empower these children and their parents to ensure these rights are provided and to assist the family in understanding their rights in the development of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The ultimate goal of advocacy is to teach people with disabilities to become self-advocates. Persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities may need support of advocates to:
· know about, understand and assert their rights;
· practice self-determination; learn and develop the skills necessary to advocate for one’s self;
· practice self protection;
· obtain needed services;
· identify and overcome barriers to full participation in their community and to be protected from mistreatment, abuse, and neglect.
A component of our everyday practice is to “make someone’s day.” Simply put, that is to make the day of an individual with disabilities to be special, full of support and successful. Your support will dramatically impact a child, young adult or mature adult in a BIG way. Can individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities count on you to be a champion advocate for them?
The Arc needs members to be advocates for individuals with disabilities. For more information on how to become a member, call Carol Christan at (260) 463-2653.