Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where High Expectations Lead You

Fifteen years ago, my son, Jon came home from high school and told me he had bad news, "My teacher, June G. told me that because I have Down syndrome, I can't get my driver's license."  I told him that was not true. If he wanted to get his license, we would help him to study and give him driving lessons. The next thing we did  was to take him out of June's class and  and Marblehead High and the low expectations June and the school had for him. June was a good teacher, but since she was not on the same page as us, she could not teach Jon. You see, we had high expectations for Jon and set the bar just beyond where anyone else thought he could achieve. This wasn't about whether Jon could drive, it was bigger than that.  If Jon wanted to drive, like any other person, he would receive instruction and then he would either pass or fail. That was the natural consequence.  To deny Jon the opportunity, would be to deny his person hood. Down the road, someone could use this thinking to say he couldn't stay by himself, take public transportation or whatever other low expectations people had. So, Jon enrolled at Swampscott High, our neighborhood school, where there were high expectations and  no limits for him. After taking driver's education, he decided that in fact, he was not interested in driving after all.  It was his decision-not June's.
Today Jon, age 31, lives by himself-I mean by himself. No roommates.  Staff assist him a few hours a week. He has a job, friends and is active in his community.
Last night, Jon called. He drove a car.

Monday, June 28, 2010

From Best Buddies


Best Buddies Massachusetts

At the start of 2010 Best Buddies and Cardinal Cushing Centers paired up to introduce the Best Buddies Jobs program to student-aged participants in the vocational program in Hanover. Cardinal Cushing Centers is a non-profit school that works to prepare students with disabilities with an education and vocational training that will allow them to succeed after graduation.

Because of their extensive vocational training, Cardinal Cushing students are prepared to excel in competitive work environments. The goals of the Best Buddies Jobs program and Cardinal Cushing Centers compliment one another and offer exciting opportunities for the students.

Through the Best Buddies Jobs program, five students have been placed in jobs in the Hanover area including Verc Enterprises Briteway Carwash, The Fresh Market, Super Stop & Shop and Cohasset Cycles.

Verc Enterprises is retail convenience store/gasoline station group operating in twenty locations in MA and NH. Most recently Leo Vercollone, President of Verc Enterprises, raised his employee population of people with disabilities to 15%. In March, Verc Enterprises hired two Best Buddies participants from Cardinal Cushing Centers at their Norwell Briteway carwash.

Josh and Brandon, were hired to perform maintenance work around the carwash. Originally, they were responsible for cleaning the vacuums, waiting area and washing the windows. After their first couple weeks, they were excited to be given the opportunity to help the other employees in the carwash tunnel during their “down time” at work. Two months later, Josh and Brandon are enjoying working full time in the “tunnel”, as they call it, power washing the cars before they enter the carwash.

Another Best Buddies Cardinal Cushing participant, Robert, began working at The Fresh Market, a specialty super market in Hingham in March. He is a courtesy clerk bagging groceries and carrying them out to customer’s cars. Robert loves his new position and is striving to reach a goal of moving up to cashier in the next couple months.

Other Best Buddies Cardinal Cushing participants, Michael and Dustin, work at Super Stop & Shop as a bagger and Cohasset Cycles as a bicycle tuner.

Manager of Stop & Shop, Colin Macloud sought out Best Buddies when he knew he had a position to hire for as he was already familiar with the hard working and positive ethics Cardinal Cushing students have.

Bicycling has been Dustin’s favorite hobby for a long time and he spends most of his free time either riding or repairing bikes around Cardinal Cushing. On Dustin’s first day at Cohasset Cycles, owner John Wilkie, had set up a bicycle tuning stand for him and asked him to dive right in. Four bicycles later when asked what Dustin thought of his new position he replied “just another day in paradise.” Best Buddies is thrilled to be working with such a positive student population at Cardinal Cushing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Real Threat to Services In Massachusetts

The Arc and ADDP are glad to announce that Mass. Families Organizing for Change and Mass Advocates Standing Strong are also on board for the Vigil for the Vote...Save the Safety Net
Senator Brown's office is located in the JFK Federal Building, Suite 2400
New Sudbury Street, Boston, MA 02203 (across from Boston City Hall)
Detailed directions are here:
Vigil for the Vote and to Save the Safety Net  
Advocates, Consumers and Family Members  to Hold Vigil  in Scott Brown's Boston Office
Vigil Photo
Unless Scott Brown and his fellow Senators agree to end the GOP filibuster on the Jobs Extender's Bill (H.R. 4213), Massachusetts will lose nearly $700 million in extended FMAP dollars.

This loss will force the Massachusetts budget to be drastically cut, endangering health and human service programs that make up the state's safety net.

Today, more than 50 U.S. senators are set to approve the release of the FMAP funds, but the minority can delay passage by extending debate.  Rules in the Senate require 60 votes to stop debate (cloture).

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is one of several key lawmakers who is refusing to vote to end debate and subsequently preventing a vote on FMAP from succeeding in the senate.

We need your help to move the vote, and get the money to Massachusetts.

At this point, there are no other options. So ADDP and the Arc of Massachusetts are joining with four other states to convince Senator Scott Brown and others to "Allow the Vote."
Join the Vigil in Scott Brown's Senate Office

We will hold a daily vigil in his office starting this Thursday, June 24, until the Senate takes action on FMAP.
Activists crowd State house
  • Thursday, June 24
  • Friday, June 25
  • Monday, June 28
  • Tuesday, June 29
We will hold the vigil from
10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. each day.

To join the vigil,  please email kate@addp.org, and let her know of your plans to attend.

Leo V. Sarkissian, Executive Director     
The Arc of Massachusetts  
217 South St.                   (781) 891-6270, xt. 106
Waltham, Ma 02453          (781) 891-6271 (fax) 
The Arc of Massachusetts’ mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. We accomplish this through advocacy of supports and services based in the community.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thought you Would Want to Know

Disability Stats and Facts

·        People with disabilities constitute the nation's largest minority group, and the only group any of us can become a member of at any time.
·        Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Americans with disabilities increased 25 percent, outpacing any other subgroup of the U.S. population.
·        People with disabilities represent the single largest minority group seeking employment in today's marketplace.
·        Of the 69.6 million families in the United States, more than 20 million have at least one family member with a disability.
·        According to the U.S. Department of Education, workers with disabilities are rated consistently as average or above average in performance, quality and quantity of work, flexibility, and attendance.
·        Over 65 percent of working-age adults with disabilities are unemployed. Of these working adults, nearly one third earn an income below the poverty level.
·        People with disabilities are nearly twice as likely as people without disabilities to have an annual household income of $15,000 or less.
·        The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is ten times greater than the national unemployment rate, yet many of those unemployed individuals have the skills you need.
·        1 billion people globally report having a disability, and people with disabilities in the U.S. control aggregate annual income of > $1 trillion
·        2.3 million undergrad & grad students reported disabilities in 2004, more than double the 1.1 million reported in 1996
·        The employment rate for people with disabilities was 38.1% in 2005, roughly half of that for people without disabilities
·        There are 133 million people in the United States living with a chronic health condition. That number is expected to increase by more than one percent a year to 150 million by 2030. 75 percent of people with chronic health conditions are younger than 65
·        Globally, people with disabilities represent an emerging market on par with the size of China
·        Approximately 54 million Americans have at least one disability, making them the largest minority group in the nation. As our baby boomer population ages and more veterans return from war, this number will double in the next 20 years.
·        Notwithstanding the strides made in disability rights in the past 25 years, the majority of people with disabilities are poor, under-employed and under-educated due largely to unequal opportunities. People with disabilities constitute the largest minority group in the United States, making up an estimated 20 percent of the total population. It is a diverse group, crossing lines of age, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.
·        We all have a personal stake in this community: it is open to anyone who might experience an accident, illness, genetic difference or the effects of aging. And yet, the Foundation Center reports that out of over 3 billion dollars spent in philanthropic giving, only 2.9 percent of grants made by institutionalized philanthropy are directed to programs serving people with disabilities.
·        Disability Inclusive Grantmaking is the mission of DFN: inclusion of disability in grantmaking programs and inclusion of people with disabilities in grantmaking organizations.
·        Disability belongs in any grantmaking program that supports diversity. Or education. Or employment. Or housing. Or civic participation, arts and culture, technology, health care or any other element of life. The interests and needs of people with disabilities mirror those of other groups.
·        Disability Funders Network, or DFN, was established in 1994 to be a catalyst for creating a new understanding of how funders can respond to disability issues and promote awareness, support and inclusion of people with disabilities and disability issues in grantmaking programs and organizations.
·        By broadening the definition and understanding of disability, grantmakers can be more responsive to the full range of issues affecting the country's largest minority group
·        According to the Social Security Disability Resource Center (SSDRC), more than 50 million Americans have some level of disability. Of these individuals, 44 percent have a disability that is not considered severe and are able to work year round on a full-time basis. Of the total number, 80 percent are individuals who are 80 years of age or older. Additionally, among the 51.2 million Americans with disabilities are 1 million individuals who report they are unable to hear and 1.8 million individuals who report they are unable to see. (source: U.S. census data released May 2006; read the full news release)
·        For more than a third of individuals with disabilities, assistive technology is essential to being able to take care of themselves at home. (source: 2004 Harris Poll)
·        Disability rates vary among the major racial and ethnic groups (source: U.S. Census 2000):
o   African-American and American Indian/Alaska native persons report the highest rate of disability, at 24.3 percent for each group.
o   Asians reported the lowest rate of disability, 16.6 percent.
·        Disability rates vary geographically, as well (source: U.S. Census 2000):
o   Nearly 40 percent of persons reporting a disability live in the South - twice the 20 percent of each of the other three geographic areas. Persons living in Alaska, Utah and Minnesota each reported the lowest rates of disability, about 15 percent. Persons living in West Virginia reported the highest rate of disability, at 24.4 percent, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi, each over 23 percent.
·        Of the 49.7 million noninstitutionalized individuals aged five and older who reported having a disability in the U.S. 2000 Census (source: U.S. Census 2000)
o   9.3 million reported having a sensory disability involving sight or hearing.
o   21.2 million reported having a disability that limits their ability to engage in basic physical activity such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying.
o   12.4 million reported having a physical, mental or emotional condition that makes it difficult to learn, remember or concentrate.
o   6.8 million reported a physical, mental or emotional condition that makes it difficult to dress, bathe or get around inside the home.
o   18.2 million reported their disability makes it difficult to venture outside the home.
·        Census 2000 data on disability:
·        August 2004 NOD/Harris Poll data:
o   Key indicators: in Word format and PDF format.
o   Detailed results: in Word format and PDF format.
o   Presentation by Humphrey Taylor, chairman, Harris Interactive: in PowerPoint format and PDF format.