Why I Support The Arc
My name is Robin, and I didn’t grow up around people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). As an adult I’m not a parent, sibling, or extended family member of a person with I/DD (although my niece may have a mild intellectual disability and I just learned a third cousin I’ve never met has Down syndrome). So, why do I support The Arc? Why do I care about people with I/DD?
Ten years ago I got a job doing behavior management in schools for youth who exhibited very challenging behavior, most of them had I/DD. My first day on the job I fell in love with those incredible and unique human beings. Over the years I did more and more with people who have I/DD such as coaching Special Olympics, providing respite care, and learning about services and support for these individuals and their families. The more time I spent with this community, the more I loved them and their families. I also learned more and more about the history of I/DD in this country and state, how far we have come, and unfortunately, how far we have left to go. Over and over I saw that people with I/DD and their families are denied basic civil rights such as access to quality education, meaningful relationships, and inclusion within the greater community. I saw individuals experience abuse and neglect by the professionals and the systems that are supposed to protect them. I saw families struggle with isolation and fear for their child’s future. I knew that society needed to change.
I decided to get my Master of Social Work so that I could address the social justice issues regarding I/DD. With luck (and a lot of self-advocacy) I was placed at The Arc of King County for my MSW practicum. What intended on being a 10-week part time practicum quickly turned into a full time job. I just celebrated my 3-year anniversary at The Arc and am thankful to be part of this family and part of this fight.
I support The Arc because of the parents who fought for their kids to live at home, away from institutions. Because these parents demanded that their kids have access to public education in their neighborhood schools. Because parents demanded I/DD services and support be delivered in the community. Because of these parents, I was able to fall in love with people who have I/DD and find my professional passion. Because of the success of parents and people with I/DD who demand inclusion, I am at The Arc.
I support The Arc because people with I/DD and their families should have the same rights as everyone else. They should be able to live where they want, work where they want, have the relationships they want, have hobbies, and be part of a community. As we continue to shape an inclusive society more people like me, who have no biological connection to I/DD, will fall in love. More people will join the fight.
I support The Arc because inclusion needs everyone.
Today’s post comes from Robin Tatsuda, an Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator and Supervisor at The Arc of King County. Because people come to work at The Arc for many reasons, Robin wanted to share her recent reflections about why she became involved with our organization. We would love to hear why you support the work of The Arc of King County. Please let us know if you would like to share your reasons by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.