The Arc of Mower County holds town hall forum

Published 4:52 pm Saturday, January 7, 2012

I hope you enjoyed your holiday season and spent some quality time with your friends and family. Now that the holiday season is over, its back to work here at The Arc.

We had a great Christmas Festival with more than 160 people in attendance.

A special thank you to Santa, Phil Burkhart and the Ellis Chamber Players, Hy-Vee of Austin for the delicious food and all of the volunteers that helped set-up, serve food and clean up after the dance. You helped make this event enjoyable for everyone that attended.

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The Arc of Mower County held a Town Hall Forum on Dec. 12. More than 20 people, including providers, family members and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities along with Rep. Rich Murray and Rep. Jeanne Poppe. Steve Larson, senior public policy director at The Arc Minnesota gave a brief overview of the last legislative session and the 2012 session. Several people with disabilities and providers spoke to Representatives Murray and Poppe about the cuts that they have received to their services and how it’s hurting them.

Now that the holiday season is over, I am planning some events for 2012.

We have dances, Rock and Bowl, teen and adult prom, spring vacation to Duluth, Family Fun Day, Down Syndrome Connection and workshops to plan and the list keeps growing and growing.

If you would like to help with any of these events, please let me know.

Disability a focus as school bullying protections grow

Nearly all states now have laws prohibiting school bullying, but just 16 offer specific protections for those with disabilities.

An analysis of laws from across the nation were released on Dec. 6, 2011, by the U.S. Department of Education indicates that just one classification — race — is more likely than disability to be highlighted in state anti-bullying efforts.

Currently, 46 states have anti-bullying laws on the books designed to protect children in the classroom.

In recent years there have been significant efforts to add or improve such policies amid a number of high profile cases of young people taking their own lives after being targeted.

Last year alone, the Education Department report indicates that there were 21 bills enacted or amended to address school bullying.

“Every state should have effective bullying prevention efforts in place to protect children inside and outside of school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“This report reveals that while most states have enacted legislation around this important issue, a great deal of work remains to ensure adults are doing everything possible to keep our kids safe.”

While statistics vary, research suggests that children with disabilities are at higher risk of bullying than their typically developing peers. Currently, there is no legislation at the federal level to address school bullying, but discrimination against individuals with disabilities is prohibited under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In addition to disability and race, many states also include protections in their anti-bullying laws based on religion and gender.

 Upcoming events

• Monday: Health and Wellness Class, 4 to 5 p.m.; Prom King and Queen Elections Begin

• Tuesday: Scrapbooking, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

• Wednesday: Mower County Special Olympics Bowling, 4 to 5:30 p.m.

• Thursday: People First Officer training, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

• Friday: Open Center from 6 to 8 p.m.

• Saturday: Men’s Night Out, AHS boys hockey game and dinner, 1:30 to 6 p.m.