Jamey Helgeson: History of helping those with disabilities

Published 4:17 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

In the early 1950s, little was known about the condition of mental retardation or its causes. There were no programs or activities to assist in the development and care of children with disabilities.

In 1950, The National Association of Parents and Friends of the Mentally Retarded had the first-ever national convention of parents in Minneapolis. In Mower County, a group of parents who were concerned about the welfare of their children, were at that convention.

In 1951, Minnesota became the first association and was named, The Association for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic. In March of 1952, in Mower County, Articles of Incorporation were signed and the Austin Association for the Benefit of the Mentally Retarded was born. In that same year local parents developed the Oak Grove Center where children with disabilities went to school. In 1969, when they finally hired a teacher for the younger children, the parents still taught the older children.

In 1957, the Association changed the name to the Association for Retarded Children, but because Oak Grove served children and adults in 1960, they changed the name to Mower County Association for Retarded Citizens.  In the early 70s when Special Education/Early Childhood programs were being developed across the state, the Austin School District became a part of the Special Education program in Mower County.

Because of the need to have an advocate to speak up for those that could not speak for themselves, a director was hired in 1982. One of the visionary leaders of the organization at the time decided that his daughter, who was in the Faribault School for the Deaf at the time, needed a place where she could join her friends at a drop-in center. Thus, Our Place Recreation Center was born.   

In 1991, the association went through another change. The organization served individuals with many types of disabilities, and the word retarded was a label placing the disability before the person. The name was changed to The Arc Mower County. In 2019, we changed our name to LIFE Mower County. If you want to read more about the history of LIFE Mower County, please visit www.lifemowercounty.org/about-us.

Help LIFE Mower County raise $1,952 by visiting www.lifemowercounty.org/70thanniversary.

27th Annual Rose Sale

We are just about to the end of our 27th annual Rose Sale. You can place your order at www.lifemowercounty.org/rose-sale. You can also stop into the LIFE Mower County office (Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or call 507-433-8994. Please share this post with your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Deadline to order is March 22.

Upcoming Events

Monday: People First Aktion Club Meeting, 4 p.m.

Tuesday: Creative Arts at Austin Artworks Center, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Special Olympics Bowling, 4 p.m.

Thursday: Adulting 101, 4 p.m.

Friday: Luck of the Irish Party, 6 p.m.

March 22: Open Center, 6 p.m.

March 23: Special Olympics Bowling, 4 p.m.

March 24: Adaptive Yoga in a Chair, 4 p.m.

March 25: Movie and Munchies, 6 p.m.

March 26: National Eagle Center Bald Eagle Field Trip, 9 p.m.