National Advocacy Award goes to local parent advocate

Margaret-Lee Thompson, Coordinator of The King County Parent Coalition for Developmental Disabilities, a program of The Arc of King County, is Awarded the Advocacy Matters! National Award from The Arc of the United States

Seattle, WA – September 20, 2010 – The Arc of the United States announces that Margaret-Lee Thompson is the award recipient of their national award, Advocacy Matters! established in honor of the late Lorraine Sheehan.  Ms. Thompson was chosen to receive the Advocacy Matters! Award as she exemplifies the spirit of Ms. Sheehan who tirelessly spent her life advocating for the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on a local and national level.  The Advocacy Matters! Award will be presented to Ms. Thompson on November 5th at the The Arc’s National Convention which will be held at the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort in Buena Vista, Florida.

Margaret-Lee Thompson serves as the Coordinator of the King County Parent Coalition for Developmental Disabilities, a program of The Arc of King County, a non-partisan grassroots network comprised of parents and family members established to advocate for the rights for people with developmental disabilities.  The infancy of the King County Parent Coalition began in 1990 when Ms. Thompson received a six month grant from the King County Division of Developmental Disabilities to coordinate a “Parent Coalition” to bring parents together to learn about government, understand the system in which their children with disabilities lived, and educate their communities through grassroots advocacy.  The King County Parent Coalition became a program of The Arc of King County in 1994.

For the past 20 years, Margaret-Lee Thompson’s collaboration with the King County Developmental Disabilities Division and The Arc of King County’s Parent Coalition has achieved remarkable victories for people with developmental disabilities, both locally and statewide.   The Parent Coalition has three overarching goals which are: to work for a better future for people with developmental disabilities and their families through systems advocacy, which involves educating legislators through direct advocacy about the issues that impact people with developmental disabilities; to organize parent training workshops designed to teach parents how to navigate the developmental disabilities system, course topics are comprehensive and range from transitions from school to adult services, to guardianships and wills; and to inform King County families about the developmental disabilities system at all levels through meetings, forums and communications.

Margaret-Lee Thompson’s passion for the work she has accomplished on behalf of people with disabilities arose from her commitment to her son, Dan, a man with disabilities, and her family, to ensure that Dan would live in a community that was inclusive, fair and supportive of human rights for people with developmental disabilities.  Ms. Thompson, determined to witness a change in her lifetime, has been a catalyst for changing community and government mindsets and systems.  Through her work, Ms. Thompson has built solid working relationships with parents, legislators, staff, volunteers, Board members, and community partners.  She is a teacher and a leader who has kept the vision to unite individuals to build a better community for all people.

Established in 1936, The Arc of King County is the oldest local nonprofit organization serving children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.  Developmental disabilities include Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, cognitive disabilities and other similar conditions, which occur prior to the age of 18 and are expected to last for life.  The Arc promotes self-sufficiency and civil rights for people with disabilities through community partnerships, outreach, peer support and direct client support.  Each year this organization serves thousands of individuals and their families.

To contact The Arc of King County, call 206-364-6337, toll free at 1-877-964-0600, TTY 1-877-666-2348 or at www.arcofkingcounty.org

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