In my experience, most people want a connection. They want to belong to something, to be connected to others - and that's true for people with disabilities, too. I was thinking about this topic again due to the inspirational presentation by Erik Carter of Vanderbilt University at The Arc's Summer Leadership Institute in Philadelphia.
Although attitudes have changed, we know that we have a way to go. Carter's research of families with children with developmental disabilities in Tennessee faith communities reported that one in three families had left a faith community because they felt that their child was not accepted. Even more striking was research of the general public in Britain (2015) which found that 67% of respondents avoid contact or panic because they feel awkward around people with disabilities.
48% reported never starting a conversation with a person who is disabled.
As part of our work, whether as family, friend, or staff, we need to support individuals with disabilities in their journeys toward belonging.  The first step may be realizing within ourselves that belonging is an essential role for persons with disabilities - and that it may be more important than being employed or having a specific program to attend. We also need to find allies in our communities, many of whom may need encouragement themselves to realize there is nothing to be awkward about.
We shouldn't let barriers or negative dynamics dissuade us. We can seek support from other families, friends, and/or advocates to help loved ones and friends continue their journey to belong.


Leo V. Sarkissian
Executive Director
The Easiest Way to Support The Arc? Monthly Giving
Join the Monthly Giving Program. Support the programs of The Arc of Massachusetts with a monthly gift. Your gift will help sustain The Arc throughout the year and in years to come. It's easy to join. We will charge your credit card each month until you tell us to stop. You can feel good knowing that you are making a difference every month without renewal letters and reminders.
Help wanted: SUPPORT brokers
SUPPORT brokers of The Arc of Massachusetts is currently seeking applicants with extensive experience to assist families and individuals in Greater Boston, South Shore and Framingham.

SUPPORT brokers, independent of the Massachusetts system of state agencies, spend time with individuals and their families to learn about their needs and goals. Even though support brokers have experience working with a range of state agency services, they are primarily responsible to the consumer/family. Brokers develop person centered plans, which are based on the consumer's dreams, goals and support needs. After a plan is in place, brokers help consumers find those supports and put them in place. Support brokers know how to navigate the system and community to secure help and assistance as available.

SUPPORT brokers is a fee-for-service consulting group. Its mission is to assist persons with disabilities to achieve their vision. This is accomplished through planning, education, and advocacy. For more information, please visit our website.

To apply please send a resume and cover letter to: Kerry
Nicky's Law featured on Boston 25 News
O n Tuesday, July 24, The Arc of Massachusetts Director of Government Affairs Maura Sullivan and Cheryl Ryan Chan sat down with Boston 25 News' Heather Hegedus to discuss the latest advancements of our priority legislation, Nicky's Law! View this important segment now - and be sure to spread the word!
  (L) Maura Sullivan and Melanie McLaughlin, along with Leo Sarkissian, attended 
  The Arc of the United States National Leadership Institute in Philadelphia.

  (R) Maura Sullivan and Cheryl Ryan Chan were interviewed by Heather Hegedus
  of Boston 25 News about the latest legislative progress on Nicky's Law.
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