Arc marks Developmental Disability Awareness Month

Published 2:32 pm Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Arc of Mower County joins a network of more than 700 chapters of The Arc, including self-advocates, families and volunteers across the nation to mark Developmental Disability Awareness Month in March.

The month will commemorate the progress toward improving the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and also highlight the challenges that remain in achieving full inclusion for people with I/DD.

The Arc’s advocacy led to President Ronald Reagan officially proclaiming March to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. In bringing I/DD to the forefront, the proclamation underscores the pride and the promise of this constituency in achieving the same dreams of every American. This national declaration generated renewed respect for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and increased awareness of the issues faced by this constituency and by their families.

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The Presidential Proclamation states: “For many of these people with developmental disabilities there is now the prospect of a brighter future and greater opportunity.  Americans are becoming increasingly aware that such disabilities need not keep individuals from realizing their full potential in school, at work or at home, as members of their families and of their communities.”

“The Arc of Mower County and the many volunteers in our community work each day to provide the necessary services and supports to ensure that people with I/DD are valued, contributing members of the community and fully included,” said Dawn Helgeson, executive director of The Arc of Mower County.

The Arc’s network of chapters is on the frontlines of grassroots advocacy efforts and during the month of March, chapters will:

•Encourage people to get involved by volunteering or donating;

•Contact policy makers and legislators to speak out on issues impacting people with I/DD;

•Reach out to employers/businesses to hire people with I/DD and

•Spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Program spotlight:  People First Aktion Club

The Arc Mower County’s self advocacy group is People First Aktion Club.

People First Aktion Club is an self-advocacy and self-help club for adults (Ages 18 and older) with disabilities who want to make their own choices, speak up for themselves and be independent. Members work on developing skills such as: Speaking for themselves, making decisions for themselves, supporting each other, finding answers to unmet needs, working for independence and self-sufficiency, helping people in the community understand and accept individuals with disabilities and volunteer opportunities

People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) must have the right to and be supported to act as self-advocates. Self-advocates exercise their rights as citizens by communicating for and representing themselves, with supports in doing so, as necessary. This means they have a say in decision-making in all areas of their daily lives and in public policy decisions that affect them.

People First Aktion Club activities include:

•SAM (Self Advocates Minnesota);

•Monthly meetings, Usually held on the fourth Tuesday of the month from 6-7 p.m. at The Arc Mower County;

•Community Service Projects (Food Drives for The Salvation Army, Supply Drives for the Mower County Humane Society and the Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army Bell Ringing Etc.);

•Conferences (State Self-Advocacy Conference, Self Advocates Minnesota SAM Conference, etc.);

•Fundraisers (Fudge Sale, Chicken Dumpling Soup and Chili Supper, etc.) and

•Disability Day at the Capitol

Learn more at

23rd Annual Rose Sale – Where Promise Lives, Hope Blossoms

Sale Dates:  Feb. 19 – March 30

Pick-up and delivery day:  Tuesday, April 17. Roses can be picked-up between 10 a.m. and p.m. Roses will be delivered between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Let someone know that you care and support the work of The Arc Mower County by supporting our annual rose sale.  All proceeds from The sale benefit children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities including down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy.  One in 10 families has a member with a disability. Your participation provides critical funding for programs and services.

Any level of support is appreciated. Here are a few suggestions:

At your work — coordinate a pre-sale rose sale. You can pre-sell roses by  emailing your co-workers and encouraging them to order. Call The Arc with a group rose order and the roses can be delivered to your office!

In your neighborhood — ask your neighbors, friends and family to order roses.

Brighten someone’s day — order roses to give to your customers or employees to show how much you appreciate them.

Volunteer – Rose Sale coordinators are needed throughout Austin and the surrounding communities to coordinate rose sales at local churches, businesses, etc.

In school – School groups can sell individual roses to support their peers that attend activities.

Volunteers are needed to help with pick-up and delivery day. Register to volunteer by emailing

Order forms are available at

Upcoming Events

•Disability Awareness Night at the Austin Bruins hockey game — Friday, March 9.  Learn more at

•Engineer-It Adventure Club — Wednesday, April 18, 25, May 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2018.  Learn more at

View the complete activity calendar at