We are all teachers and we are all advocates when it comes to our children, and all of the children are special regardless of their gifts or their disabilities. Special children grow into special adults – again, regardless of their gifts or their disabilities.
I was pondering the above statement as a thought on my morning commute. I have a rather pleasant 35 minute drive from my home to The Arc office in Waynesboro, so I have time to mull over ideas and thoughts. The thought was based on an ad lib comment from a recent conversation I had and it got me thinking – as parents we are teachers and advocates for our children, and as professional staff we are also teachers and advocates for those individuals we work with through The Arc programs and activities.
We teach and we learn as the individual learns. We advocate for the individuals we serve and in turn they learn to advocate for themselves. I know from being the parent of a special needs child that I have learned – I have learned patience, I have learned perseverance and I have learned unconditional love from my son. At The Arc of Augusta all of the things I have learned from my son have been reinforced by the individuals we serve, but I have also learned acceptance – an open arms acceptance for anyone who comes into your life. We learn to trust based on our interactions with people and who we choose to accept. It may feel as though I am “preaching to the choir” in this opening web page as many of you reading know these experiences first hand as parents, as grandparents, guardians and care givers. Learning, knowing and passing on what we know has to go beyond just those individuals in our care – it has to also reach the ears of those who make decisions that affect those we care for and about. The decision makers in our local communities, schools, service organizations and all levels of government need to hear from us what we have learned, what we are teaching and what we believe should be done in the best interests of the people we hope to impact! The individuals we serve are people first and deserve the same opportunities, the same dreams and the same life we have and many times take for granted. We have to advocate for what we want and the individuals themselves need to advocate as well, to share their stories, their experiences, and their dreams.
The Arc of Augusta has been reaching out for over 50 years to make a difference in the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We choose to take an active role in our work, in advocacy, and in our programs. As you explore our new website and learn about our organization I encourage you to consider if you could make a difference in someone’s life. We need volunteers, we need an active membership, and we need Board Members. Trust me, there is room in this organization for you, and we appreciate every action and every gesture, no matter how large or small.
Please learn about us and consider joining us as we help to write a new chapter in the lives of the people we serve and advocate for.
Warren J. McKeen