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Residents starting on the ARC Walk for Independence at Stonewood Shopping Center.
By Tammye McDuff
Even with the threat of rain, thousands of walkers came out on Saturday morning, March 17th, to support the ARC Walk for Independence at Stonewood Shopping Center. This annual event is in support of adults and children with intellectual / developmental disabilities. The first ARC walk had a meager 200 participants and proudly declares over 5,000 gathered to walk, support and participant this year.
Phillip Palmer, ARC host and ABC 7 Anchor stated “The walk is a community bonding time, of hope. A day where friends and families can celebrate the joy of life together.”
Mayor Sean Ashton greeted participants saying, “I walk because I believe every individual should be treated with dignity and respect. I walk because people with disabilities have traveled a road that I cannot relate to, but yet I appreciate what they have overcome. Thousand have spent most of their lives in large institutions, but thanks to our efforts can now thrive in accepting communities. This morning is about the abilities of the ARC community, not their disabilities. This is a show of support for those individuals who are working toward their independence.”
Founded in 1950, a small group of parents and professionals joined forces to act as voices for a change in conditions of those with intellectual disabilities and its cause. At the time there were no programs, activities of communities to assist in the care of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The common position for doctors to take, at the time, was to inform the parents the best place for a child with these types of challenges was an institution. The collective desire by these parents and physicians formed the first ARC Foundation in 1956.
Today ARC is the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides an array of services and support for families and individuals and includes over 140,000 members affiliated through more than 850 state and local chapters across the nation. ARC offers 14 different services, from Senior Programs; Programs for people with disabilities; classes and educational programs and a variety of work programs.
Mayfair Monsoon Marching Core from Lakewood provided upbeat music to pump up participants and Acapulco Restaurant provided a free breakfast for all paid participants.
To get involved with ARC, visit the website at www.arcwalk.org.