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The Arc of Washington County

Darrilyn McCrerey

Participating in everyday activities, having access to resources, being respected as a valued member of your community, having a sense of belonging and having opportunities to succeed and grow. These are just some examples of inclusion.  At The Arc of Washington County, our work promotes inclusive opportunities for people of all abilities. We focus on advocacy for others, self-advocacy and advocacy for system change. The Arc of Washington County is an affiliated chapter of The Arc of Pennsylvania and The Arc of the United States, and we advocate for the rights and full participation of all children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and/or Autism. At The Arc of Washington County, advocacy means getting out and helping families and individuals navigate the systems and connect with resources in the community. People of all abilities should have the opportunity to participate fully in their communities, and that means working, socializing, enjoying recreational opportunities and volunteering. It’s not easy, especially over the past year during these unprecedented times – it’s tough out there.

Teaching people with disabilities self-advocacy skills, empowering people to use their own voices to speak up for themselves, to be fully involved in the decision-making for their own lives and educating others on inclusive opportunities is one step closer to raising awareness.

An innovative way that the Self-Advocacy group has accomplished this is through a project called the “A-Z’s of Inclusion.” This is a project in which self-advocates continue to use their voice as a means to promote inclusion for all. Posters and calendars have been created to distribute to community members as a reminder that people of all abilities have the right to be included and to be a part of their community. Whether it is a barrier, an inclusive opportunity or a word that is dear to them, our self-advocates came up with a word for every letter of the alphabet that expresses the need for inclusion. Inclusion is a term that means all people, regardless of their ability, disability or other needs have the right to be respected as a valuable member of their community. Often, people with disabilities face barriers that don’t always allow for this opportunity, whether its related to accessibility in community establishments, stereotypical actions that assume a person with a disability is unable to participate in the community or transportation to access day to day activities. Our focus is awareness, education, acceptance and advocacy for all.

For more information about The Arc of Washington County, visit www.arcofwashpa.org or contact Darrilyn McCrerey, Director of Advocacy, at mccrereyd@arcofwashpa.org

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