Remembering Our Pioneers, and Thanks to You Pioneers of the Future

As we approach Memorial Day, it is  important to remember those who have given so much to bring the developmental disabilities movement to this point.  It came home so powerfully this week.

I was privileged to be the speaker for Down Syndrome Indiana’s fourth Tuesday family session at St. Luke’s UMC  in Indianapolis.  And into this meeting came a young family with a two-month old beautiful little girl.  Like any new parents they were so proud of this first addition to their family. Thanks to our wonderful pioneers, before they left the hospital their daughter was enrolled in First Steps – a program The Arc partnered with so many to make sure every baby with a disability in the state can receive early intervention services.  Also before they left the hospital, they were put in touch with Down Syndrome Indiana and made welcome.  And that night they learned about The Arc and our Pathways Campaign.

None of this would have been possible without the dedicated actions of so many pioneers who have gone before – many who are now no longer with us.  This little girl has a future that is so much brighter because of their work, and yours.

One of our founders often told the story that the church her family had gone to for years was willing to host one of the first family meetings in the early 50’s; but, they asked this mom to tell parents not to bring their children because they were worried about damage to the church!  As a result that mom moved the meeting and her family to another church!

We certainly have come a very long way.  And it seems today much of that progress is threatened by an economy and a state budget that is very challenging.  It is going to be a time of great change.  It is our job to make sure that the right changes are made.

It has been exciting to see the response to our Building Pathways to Empowerment Campaign.  Families, providers and self-advocates have welcomed the opportunity to focus on the future.

An important part of the Pathways Campaign is the formation of what we call the “Big Minds Group.”  This group, made up of some of the best minds in the disability field from across the country, is already taking part in individual interviews, responding to questions on the possibilities they see for the future.  Soon, you can participate in answering these questions as part of our Pathways website.  (Learn more about the Big Minds Group and plans for the website by listening to the latest A View from My Window audiocast, “A View into an Update on Building Pathways.”

As you look to the work ahead, remember, someone in the distant future is going to look back with thanks for what you do today and the tremendous difference it is making in their life.

Wishing you and your family and happy and safe Memorial Day, and remembering all those wonderful pioneers who will live on through their actions that continue to make a difference.