Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Family Support Program is in jeopardy

Save the Family Support Program!
As many of you know, Tennessee's Family Support Program is at great risk of being eliminated! We want to keep you informed of the latest developments so that you can get involved. Here is what’s happening across the state:

Monthly Conference Calls:
Date: November 18, 2009, 3:00pm - 4:00pm Eastern/2:00pm - 3:00pm CST
What is Family Support?
Easter Seals, in collaboration with Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), is hosting a series of monthly conference calls on Family Support. Each call is designed for families of children with developmental disabilities and self-advocates to learn more about family support options, as well as how to advocate for service improvements. This is the first in a series of family support conference calls; additional calls will be held on the third Wednesday of each month. For call-in information, please register at http://www.directeventreg.com/registration/event/40554288.

MESSAGE FROM TN FAMILY SUPPORT ALLIANCE:
Governor Bredesen is holding public departmental budget hearings this week. The Division of Intellectual Disability Services, which oversees the Family Support Program is scheduled to present their budget recommendations from 1:00pm to 1:45pm on Thursday, November 19. The hearing will be held in the State Capitol Building.

As of today, the State of Tennessee anticipates a budget shortfall in the range of $1.5 Billion dollars in the coming fiscal year.  This represents a 9.4% cut from the $26.3 Billion budget Governor Bredesen presented to the legislature last year.

We now have authoritative documentation that the Division plans to submit a budget of only $202,100 to the Governor for the entire statewide Family Support Program. Last year, the budget for the program started at $7.67M dollars.  During the year, the program was cut by $1M. This appropriation means that the Family Support program will be cut by 97% if the Division’s budget is allowed to stand.

The Tennessee Family Support Program serves citizens with severe disabilities, many of whom have few, if any, other resources. At present, it is the only program that serves “gap” populations, including persons with developmental disabilities other than intellectual disabilities, as well as certain middle income families who do not qualify for government supports even though these households are bearing extreme disability-related costs.

The Governor’s Budget hearings are open to the public. Please attend. Write Governor Bredsen and ask him to include the Tennessee Family Support Program in his budget when he presents it to the State Legislature. Visit and write your local legislators before they return for the January session and let them know how much the Family Support program means to you personally.  Ask them to preserve and protect funding for the Tennessee Family Support Program.

If you cannot attend, you can watch the hearing online at http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/gov/budget.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Memphis Tigers coach, Josh Pastner, takes action to empower individuals with disabilities



One of our CDJP graduates, Steven Beckham (pictured on the right with U of M basketball player, Doneal Mack, on the left), recently participated in a basketball camp hosted by The University of Memphis and Memphis Tigers men's basketball coach, Josh Pastner!

Students and adults from various agencies throughout the Mid-South were invited to participate in a one-day basketball camp on Saturday, November 7th. Thanks to The University of Memphis and Coach Josh Pastner for your vision and support of The Arc's mission!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Arc kicks off 2009-2010 membership drive.



Memberships are an important source of funding for The Arc's programs and services. Join us today!
Click here to submit a membership form online!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Awesome news for special education in Tennessee

The October 17-18 issue of The Memphis News reported that the Tennessee Department of Education has been awarded a $3.4 million grant for its special education students. The grant will be distributed over the next four years and will go toward increasing literary and math skills and improving early childhood outcomes for children diagnosed with autism. The grant will also go toward making sure that children from low income families are taught by experienced and qualified teachers.

This is great news for Tennessee's students!

You can view the press release here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WSMV-TV reports on budget worries for Tennessee Family Support Program

About a month ago, we blogged about the possible elimination of the Tennnessee Family Support Program. Fortunately, the issue is getting some media attention. WSMV-TV of Nashville reported on the state's budget crisis and what it could mean for funding for people with severe disabilities. Mary Hildebrand of The Arc of Davidson County speaks in the video about how the funding cuts would affect the over 4,300 families who are served by the program. The video also features a family (Courtney Weaver and her mother, Theresa Smith) who benefits from the funds, putting a face to this critical issue.

You can learn more about the Family Support Program here.

Also, if you haven't already, join the Tennessee Family Support Alliance which brings awareness to the Family Support crisis and provides updates as well as information about legislators you can contact in your area.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hero from Texas

A story came out on the ABC affiliate in Houston about a boy with autism who saved his art teacher's life. They were in a classroom alone when his teacher, Sheri Lowe, bit into an apple and choked. Ten year old Kyle Forbes then rushed to her and performed the Heimlich maneuver that he learned in Cub Scouts and had practiced with his father.

Everyone can make a difference!

Monday, October 12, 2009

14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala



Thanks to everyone for making the 14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala a night to remember. Nearly 300 guests entered the Hilton Memphis’ Grand Ballroom September 26 to enjoy food, entertainment, and music, all for a good cause.

The event featured a silent and live auction. Some of the items up for bid included a 47” Philips HDTV from Sam’s Club, roundtrip tickets from Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways, a membership to The Crescent Club, and a John Hardy cocktail ring from Mednikow Jewelers.

Members of The Arc of the Mid-South’s Board of Directors presented awards to honor those who continually strive to make a difference in lives of individuals with disabilities, their families, and friends. Winners for this year’s awards include:

Taco Bell – Employer of the Year
Kristen Hicks – Employee of the Year
Anthony Sledge – Professional of the Year
John Barzizza – Distinguished Community Service Award
Lou Gettings – Educator/Advocate of the Year
Derrick Freeman – Outstanding Artist/Performer Award
Adrian Starks – Empowerment Award
Beverly Cannon – Humanitarian of the Year

Joe Birch of WMC-TV did an awesome job moderating the event and serving as celebrity auctioneer.

Thanks to our volunteers, staff, and all attendees!

Make sure to check out photos from the gala on our flickr page!

Friday, October 9, 2009

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and The Arc of the Mid-South will join community groups throughout the area to promote employment for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Triangle, Inc. is an organization that offers job training and career placement on the east coast. They posted a great video on their Ablevision website that shows a story about a Walgreens employee, Quang, who has a disability and describes his experiences working as a service clerk. The short film is part of a series that can be found on the Triangle website.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A C Wharton speech from our Gala



For those of you who made it to our Gala Saturday night, you've already seen this. But if you missed the event, not only did you miss a fantastic time, you missed this great presentation by Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton.

Mayor Wharton was to be our featured speaker, but due to the Memphis Mayoral debate on WREG, he had to pull out of the Gala. While we were disappointed that he wouldn't be there, we were very grateful for the efforts Mayor Wharton and his staff put forth to be sure that we had a keynote presentation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Neat Story out of Kansas

This is a great story out of Kansas that is sure to bring a smile to your face. Matt Ziesel, a freshman football player at St. Joseph Benton, has Down syndrome. With his team down 46-0 late in the game two weekends ago, his coach - Dan McCamy - called for the "Matt Play" and ran across the field to the defensive huddle of Maryville to explain the situation.

What ensued was a long touchdown run by Ziesel with Marville's players chasing him to make it as real as possible for Ziesel.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Help Save Tennessee's Family Support Program!


As many of you know, Tennessee's Family Support Program at great risk of being eliminated!

According to the TN Family Support Alliance, "In 2009, the Division announced a $1 Million reduction to the program... The notification of reduction in funding was accompanied by a letter indicating that 2009-10 funding primarily would come from federal stimulus dollars and that barring additional federal funds, the program would be effectively eliminated in the 2010-11 state fiscal year."

According to annual consumer satisfaction surveys that are maintained by the state, the Family Support program is widely recognized as one of the most successful services ever to be operated in Tennessee. Currently, the Family Support program serves around 4,300 families and more than 6,000 families of persons with severe disabilities are on the statewide waiting list.

In order to effectively advocate that this program be maintained, we need to hear from the families that these cuts will affect. Please email us your story about how the loss of this program will impact your family. We will be collaborating with families and other agencies in the coming month to determine the best plan of action. Your stories can be sent to Megan Long at mlong@arcmidsouth.net.

Additionally, we want to invite you to stop by our office and sign the petition, urging our legislators to save this vital program. You can also download the petition and help us gather signatures from friends, family members, churches, and other support networks. All petitions must contain original signatures and need to be returned to The Arc of the Mid-South by September 30th. Your signed petitions can be emailed to Megan Long, faxed to (901) 327-1197, or mailed or delivered to 3485 Poplar Avenue, Suite 210, Memphis, TN 38111.

Don't forget to attend the Shelby & Fayette County Family Support Program Meeting at Memphis Center for Independent Living (1633 Madison, Memphis) on Saturday, October 3rd at 11:00am for more updates on this issue.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Support The Arc of the Mid-South every time you shop at Schnucks

The Arc of the Mid-South is now participating in the eScrip program with Schnucks. Every time you use your Schnucks card, 3% of your purchase will be donated to our agency. This is a great way to support The Arc of the Mid-South and our mission to empower people with disabilities to achieve their fill potential in life.

The best part is that it couldn't be easier. First, you'll need to get a customer card from your local Schnucks store. If you are already a Schnucks shopper, you can use your existing card.

After that, you just need to register your card with escrip. There's two ways to do that:

• Call (800) 931-6258 and provide your card number, the 12-digit number below the bar code on the back of the card. You'll also need to provide our group ID number: 500022601.

• You can also sign up online. Click on "Register Online Now" and enter either the agency name - The Arc of the Mid-South - or our group ID number: 500022601. Again, you'll need to enter your 12-digit card number located below the bar code on the back of the card.

Once your card is registered, all you have to do is shop. There's no catch, no hidden fees. Every time you shop at Schnucks, you're supporting The Arc of the Mid-South.

Thanks and see you at Schnucks!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thanks for coming to Open House


We just wanted to thank everyone who made it out to our Open House event last Friday evening. We had about 100 people show up, tour our recently renovated space, meet other Arc supporters, make donations, and purchase Arc memberships and tickets to our upcoming 14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala. Visitors were given tours of the suites, including a look at the Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES Lab), where our students receive their classroom job training.

We even had some celebrities drop by. Carrie Guiden, Executive Director of The Arc of Tennessee and State Senator Reginald Tate were both in town Friday night and stopped by the office for a while.

Carlene Leaper, Executive Director at The Arc of the Mid-South thinks the event was a big hit.

“Our Open House was a big success and a lot of fun,” Leaper says. “With the countdown on for our Gala next month, this was a great way to reconnect with our supporters and show them some of the improvements we’ve made this year. Everyone I spoke with had a wonderful time and is excited about the future of The Arc.”

If you couldn’t make it out but would like to contribute to The Arc, you can do it from the comfort of your own computer. Tickets to the Arc Benefit Gala can be purchased at our Gala page. Donations can be made to The Arc through our website and clicking on the “Donate” button in the lefthand column.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics, Arc of the Mid-South
Picture from SpecialOlympics.org

We are all saddened by the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics and champion for those individuals with disabilities. Inspired by her sister Rosemary's disability, Shriver held "Camp Shriver" in 1963. Her hands-on approach to the camp led her to realize that the children with disabilities were much more capable than many believed, and she organized the first Special Olympics in Chicago in 1968. Throughout her long and fruitful life, she earned many awards, including the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Carlene Leaper, Executive Director at The Arc of the Mid-South says Shriver was an important figure in the effort for equality.

"It's a sad day for not just the disability community, but for the world as well," says Leaper. "Mrs. Shriver's efforts helped paved the way for organizations like The Arc to do what we do, which is empowering individuals with disabilities to acheive their full potential in life. She was a pioneer in the field and she will be dearly missed."

While Shriver is gone, her legacy will last for generations to come.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Heartwarming story on CNN

Check out this story on CNN when you get a chance. It's about Brad Blauser, a Dallas native who founded Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids. Since 2005, he has been provided hope to hundreds of disabled Iraqi children and their families through the distribution of pediatric wheelchairs.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Check out our new Website

Arc of the mid south, websiteLast Friday, we launched our new website. The new design is much cleaner and easier to navigate, and so far has generated rave reviews from its visitors. While the format has changed, much of the information has remained the same. You can also still purchase your Gala tickets or make a donation directly from our website.

Click here or the screenshot to check it out for yourself and let us hear your feedback. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email them to Mike Phelan or just leave them in comments. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ADA Celebration Recap

Thanks again to everyone who made it out last Friday to the Hall of Mayors for the ADA Celebration. We had a great turnout and the feedback so far has been great. We had speakers from various local organizations that spoke about what the ADA has meant to them and how we can continue to build on that framework for the future. Some pictures of the event are below and you can view more of them here.

If you were able to make it down, we'd love to hear back from you about ways to make it better for next year's 20th anniversary. Give us a call at (901) 327-2473 or send an email to mphelan @ arcmidsouth -dot- net.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Open House at The Arc!

Come join us for an open house celebration!

You’ll get to see our newly renovated space, including the revamped Resource Library. You'll also get an inside look at what we do each day to improve the lives of citizens in the Mid-South with disabilities. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be provided.

Plus, if you bring a friend, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win a pair of tickets to our Arc Benefit Gala on September 26.

For those of you who have never been to our offices, we're at 3485 Poplar Avenue in Suite 210, which is the southwest corner of Poplar and Highland.

Hope to you see then!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Arc of the Mid-South to be featured on Memphis Makers

Just a programming note for everyone, The Arc of the Mid-South will be featured on the August episode of Memphis Makers, a show on the Library Channel in which host Ally Luciano talks with representatives of Memphis area non-profit agencies about the services and activities they provide to the community.

Carlene Leaper, our executive director filmed the show last Wednesday and it will air all during the month of August. She talks about the missions and visions of The Arc as well as our upcoming 14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Volunteer Advocacy Project

Hey everybody, click on the flyer below to get some more information about the upcoming Volunteer Advocacy Project. This is a fantastic training program for individuals who are willing to become advocates for families as they navigate their way through the world of special education.

If you are interested in participating, you can download your application from our website.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Basic Rights Workshop

Support and Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP) is hosting a basic rights workshop on August 11th at the Faith and Education Resource Center in Bartlett. See flyer below for more details.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Local agency ADA celebration next Friday, July 24th

Arc of the Mid-South, Memphis Redbirds, baseball, disabilityCome out to the Hall of Mayors in the Memphis City Hall next Friday, July 24th from 10:00am - Noon as we celebrate the 19th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act! Our theme this year is "19 Years, Still Working Towards Equality". In addition to The Arc of the Mid-South, the event is being sponsored by the Memphis Center for Independent Living (MCIL),
Mid-South Paralyzed Veterans Association, and United Cerebral Palsy(UCP) of the Mid-South.

We'll have free lunch for all the attendees as well as Memphis and Shelby County ADA Report Cards, Music, and more. We have several speakers on tap for the event including Gary Vanasek from the Department of Justice, Dora Ivey from the Aging and Disability Commission, Marianne Finley from the Disability Law & Advocacy Center (DLAC) of Tennessee, Suzanne Colsey from People First of Tennessee, Florence Hall from the Disability Advocate Center, as well as representatives from each agency.

Best of all, we're indoors this year! It should be a great time and celebration of 19 years of the ADA. We hope to see you there. For more information about the event, please contact Randy Alexander at MCIL at (901) 726-6404 or by email.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It was good to see everyone at AutoZone Park!

A sincere thank you to every one who bought tickets to the Redbirds game last Friday night. We had a great turn out (more than 100 tickets sold) and received additional donations from many of you as well. It was great to talk to many of you at our table in the courtyard before the game and answer some questions about the work we do.

Don't forget that we've begun collecting sponsorships and auction items for our 14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala coming up at the end of September. If you'd like to contribute, please contact Eugenia Murphy at (901) 327-2473 x503 or email her here.

Thanks again for your support!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Community Partner Night is next week!

Our Community Partner Night with the Memphis Redbirds is almost here! It's next Friday - July 10th - at 7:05pm when the Redbirds host the Albuquerque Isotopes at beautiful AutoZone Park.

We've sold more than 100 tickets so far and would love to see even more of our loyal supporters there! We've got a limited number of discounted tickets still available, but time's running out. For $10, you can get a Field Box Seat (normally $13) and help support the missions and visions of The Arc of the Mid-South.We'll be in the courtyard before the game passing out information and The Arc of the Mid-South will be featured at times throughout the game on the scoreboard.

It'll be a great evening of fun, baseball, and raising funds and awareness for people in the Mid-South with disabilities. We've got additional information about the event on our website. To purchase your discounted tickets, please call Jenny Buchanan at (901) 327-2473 x406 or send her an email at jbuchanan@arcmidsouth.net.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Great Article from the Commercial Appeal

There was a great article in yesterday's Commercial Appeal about the challenges high school students with disabilities face when they graduate and how new federal laws and increased awareness are helping make that transition easier.

The story focuses on Daniel Fendley, a high school graduate with Asperger's Syndrome headed to Southwest Tennessee Community College. It delves into challenges that he and other incoming freshmen with disabilities face and some of the steps that can be taken to ease the transition into higher learning.

It's definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tennessee Disability Mega Conference

I hope everyone enjoyed their Holiday weekend.

We've got a busy week ahead of us with the 7th annual Tennessee Disability Mega Conference in Nashville. Staff members from our Advocacy, Career Development and Job Placement, and Marketing departments are headed up I-40 to spend three days with other disability agencies from across the state to hear world-class speakers and participate in educational sessions and interactive workshops.

Once everybody gets back, we'll put some pictures up on the blog and our Facebook page.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Gala Page on our website

Hey everybody,

Just a heads up that we've got a page on our website dedicated our to our 14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala. It's got all the information you need about the event. You can even purchase your tickets online.

We're very excited about this year's event. Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton is our keynote speaker and Action News 5 anchor Joe Birch is serving as moderator. It should be a fantastic event and we hope to see you there!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Waiting List Crisis in Tennessee - A parent speaks out!

The following is a letter to the editor that appeared in The Tennesseean regarding the appalling waiting list crisis in Tennessee

To the Editor:

I am writing on behalf of my special needs daughter and the almost 7,000 other special individuals who are on the waiting list for services from the state of Tennessee.

Our daughter has been on the waiting list for seven years. There is something desperately wrong when a state has a waiting list of almost 7,000. The state of Tennessee has failed to meet the needs of its most vulnerable citizens. The situation is not going to get any better until our elected officials meet the challenge of funding and establishing enough providers to accommodate these individuals.

Presently, the only way a special needs person can be served is if they are in a crisis situation. That almost always means the death of a parent or caregiver. Our daughter was recently denied services by the DMRS.

The bottom line is, she lives with two parents and that is not considered a crisis situation. What a shame that our state has put this great need on the back burner for so many years. Is there any one out there listening?

Millie L. Cummings, UNION CITY 38261

Monday, May 4, 2009

Great Story from the Commercial Appeal

Kenny Thielemier, Arc of the Mid-South, Disability, Down Syndrome
The Commercial Appeal ran a great story yesterday about Kenny E. Thielemier, Jr., a Cordova resident with Down syndrome. He defies many stereotypes associated with developmental and intellectual disabilities as he is an active member in his church, performs in a dance troupe and helps arrange for volunteer opportunities at the Mid-South Food Bank and Meals On Wheels. His life's goals also include getting married, passing his driver's test, and landing a spot as a TV weather man.

The article also discusses some of the major improvements made in the realm of diagnosing and treating disabilities such as Down syndrome. Thielmier, Jr. serves as an example of what early intervention and a strong support system can do. With those two factors in place and the advancements in skill development, more and more people with disabilities are leading more fulfilling, independent lives.

Luke and Margie in the Final Three!

Luke and Margie Adams advanced to the final leg of CBS' The Amazing Race with their second place finish in last night's episode. The mother/son navigated the crowded streets of Beijing before arriving at the mat in front of Niao Chao, also known as the "Bird's Nest", the national stadium used during last year's SUmmer Olympic games.

Luke Adams is the first contestant in the history of The Amazing Race who is deaf. He and his mother Margie have outlasted eight other teams and now have a shot to win the $1M grand prize.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Graduation Day!

Arc of the Mid-South, Disability, Jobs
Job Developers Rashanda Lawyer (far left) and Michael Billingsley (far right) pose with members of the 2009 graduating class

It was a big day at The Arc of the Mid-South today as nine students graduated from the Job Readiness class offered by our Career Development and Job Placement (CDJP) program. The students have attended class from 9a-noon every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday since August.

Our CDJP program is designed for our clients who benefit from specialized vocational training but do not meet the requirements for enrollment in regular vocational school. It is a hands-on Arc of the Mid-South, Disability, Jobsprogram that focuses on the mastery of specific job skills that are connected to a variety of career options. Our students learn to work independently and proper social skills and work-related behaviors are emphasized to improve student employability.

While graduation means no more attending classes at our offices, it certainly doesn’t end their relationship with The Arc of the Mid-South. Our CDJP team will continue to work closely with the students as they acclimate to society and seek employment.

For more pictures from graduation, please click here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thanks for coming out!

Arc of the Mid-South, 5k run
The Arc of the Mid-South Employees from l-r:
Cynthia Burks, Eugenia Murphy, and Jennifer Buchanan

We had a great time yesterday at the inaugural University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Dentistry 5k Run and One Mile for Healthy Smiles Fun Walk.

We had quite a few people stop by the table before and after the run, which was great! We passed out a lot of information about The Arc and helped raise awareness abour our missions and goals. As one of the sponsors of the race, we also got our logo on the back of the official race t-shirts, which should be a great marketing tool for us as well.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Luke and Margie: To be Continued

Luke And Margie Adams appeared ready to arrive at the mat second in the 10th leg of CBS' The Amazing Race before a surprise twist: What was supposed to be the 10th pitstop, was actually just another clue. Luke survived a painful - but therapeutic - foot massage and the mother and son duo each swam 200 meters of a 400 meter swim before leaving for what they thought would be the pit stop.

Luke Adams is the first contestant on The Amazing Race to be deaf. He and his mom Margie have used their close relationship and communication skills to win three legs of The Amazing Race, tying them with Tammy and Victor for most this season.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Come run with us Sunday!

Arc of the Mid-SOuth, 5k Run, Memphis
Hey everybody, we're going to be at Forrest Park Sunday afternoon for the inaugural University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Dentistry 5k Run. There's also a One Mile for Healthy Smiles Fun Walk for those who don't want go the full 5k distance.

The 5k run starts at 3:00 and the 1-mile walk gets going at 3:10. On-site registration for both events start at 2:00. We'll have a sponsor's table at the run and will have information about the agency, including our 14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala coming up in September. Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton will be the keynote speaker and Action News 5's Joe Birch is moderating.

The weather forecast is looking great so we hope to see you out there!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A.C. Wharton to speak at Gala!

We got exciting news today with the announcement that Shelby County mayor A.C. Wharton will be the keynote speaker at our 14th Annual Arc Benefit Gala. With Mayor Wharton speaking and Joe Birch moderating, it's sure to be a fun evening and a great way to raise money to help make a difference in the lives of the Mid-South disability community.

This year's event is Saturday, September 26th at the Hilton Hotel in East Memphis. Tickets are now on sale! Prices start at $50 and the doors will open at 6:00 for those with VIP tickets. This year's theme is "Strengthening the Community Through Families and Partners". More information will be available shortly on our website.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We had a Great Day at Tiger Book Store!

IMG_1882
Career Development Manager Raye Journigan (2nd from left) and Job Developer Rashanda Lawyer (far right) pose with our students before the event

As part of Comcast's "Get Your Move On" promotion, some of our Career Development and Job Placement (CDJP) students worked outside Tiger Bookstore today, distributing free Comcast boxes to University of Memphis students who need them for packing at the rapidly-approaching end of the semester.

We had beautiful weather all day and passed out a lot of boxes! Thanks to everyone who stopped by to see us.

To see more pictures, please click here.

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is looking for personal stories

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is working with other disability organizations to ensure that long-term services and supports are included in health care reform. One important bill we are advocating for is the Community Choice Act. This would require states to provide Medicaid community-based personal attendant services and supports. It would help correct the institutional bias. It would provide Americans with an equal choice of community-based services. It would also help address waiting lists.

Senator Tom Harkin’s office has asked for assistance. They need personal stories that can help make the case of why long-term services and the Community Choice Act should be included in health care reform. They especially would like stories from the developmental disabilities community.

  • Are you caring for a family member or family members who need long-term services?

    • Are you an aging caregiver concerned about future services?

    • Do you have out-of-pocket expenses for long-term services that are difficult for your family?

    • Has providing care impacted your employment?

  • Are you on a waiting list for Medicaid home and community-based long-term services?

    • How long have you been waiting?

    • How long is the waiting list?

  • Have you ever had to move or become poor to get the long-term services you need?

  • Have you experienced the “institutional bias” in Medicaid?

    • Live or at one time lived in an institution or nursing home?

    • Only had a choice of nursing home of institutional placement?


There is no set format, but try to keep the stories short (about a page is good). Details are good. Make sure to include your name and what state you live in. They should make the case of why long-term services and the Community Choice Act should be part of health care reform.

We did something similar to this during passage of the Family Opportunity Act. We got a lot of great stories that helped Senator Kennedy’s staff. Please share your stories and help pass on through your Consumer Advisory Councils. Health care reform is moving very quickly so we need stories as soon as possible. Send them to Joe Caldwell at AUCD.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Luke and Margie Finish Third

Luke Adams, Amazing Race, disabilityLuke and Margie arrived at the at mat third in the 9th leg of CBS' The Amazing Race. The top three teams all finished within seconds of each other after a footrace from the final part of the Detour. Tempers flared at the mat as tensions ran high throughout the leg between Margie and Luke and sisters Keisha and Jen. Luke and Jen collided at the the first two clue boxes of the legs and exchanged heated words during the day.

Luke Adams is the first contestant on The Amazing Race who is deaf. He and his mom have survived the first 9 legs and still have a shot to win the $1M prize.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another win for Luke and Margie!

Luke and Margie Adams bounced back from a grueling seventh leg arrived at the mat first in leg eight of CBS' The Amazing Race. Still in Thailand, the mother/son dynamic duo bested the other remaining four teams as they navigated the congested streets and waterways of Bangkok. The pair was awarded a trip for two to Puerto Rico for their victory.

Luke Adams is the first contestant in the history of the show to be deaf. He and his mom Margie have used their close relationship and communication skills to win three legs of The Amazing Race, tying them with Tammy and Victor for most this season.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Carlene Leaper appointed to Mayor's Council

Carlene Leaper, Executive Director of The Arc of the Mid-South, has been named to the Mayor's Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities. Her term runs through June 30th, 2011. In her role on the council, Mrs. Leaper will help advise Mayor Herenton and other city officials on the issues that are important to Mid-Southerners with disabilities.

Mrs. Leaper feels this is a wonderful opportunity for her to work towards her personal goals and priorities of ensuring that people with disabilities have non-discriminatory access, assistance and services.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spread the Word to End the Word

Spread the Word to End the Word,Arc of the Mid-SouthTuesday, March 31st, is the day to "Spread the Word to End the Word". Created by young people with and without intellectual disabilities, Spread the Word to End the Word is one element of Special Olympics' vision of a world where everyone matters, where everyone is accepted and, most importantly, where everyone is valued.

Tomorrow, young people across the country will lead local efforts to raise awareness and collect pledges on www.r-word.org from peers and the community to vow not to use the R-word. Actor and activist John C. McGinley, of the hit show “Scrubs,” is helping with this effort by making national media appearances on behalf of the campaign.

Accorging to SpecialOlympics.org, there are more than 700 confirmed events and activities worldwide tomorrow, ranging from tables set up in malls, to grade-school assemblies on differences to all-day kiosks and movies at college campuses. A few are listed here.

To find out how you or your organization can participate, click on any of the above links.

Luke and Margie Finish Fourth

In what's becoming a theme, Luke and Margie Adams logged another fourth place finish in the seventh leg of CBS' The Amazing Race. The mother and son duo survived the intense heat of Phuket, Thailand, though Margie fainted once they arrived at the mat, suffering from dehyrdation or heat exhaustion.

Luke is the first contestant in the 14-year history of The Amazing Race to be deaf. He and his mom have been in the top four in every leg so far this season, including two first place finishes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Carlene Leaper on Rainbow Connection

Rainbow Connection, Arthur RobinsonHey everybody, just a heads up that Carlene Leaper, our Executive Director, sat down with Arthur Robinson of Rainbow Connection and discussed The Arc of the Mid-South and some of our goals and initiatives. The interview will air tomorrow - Saturday, March 28th - at 5:30 PM on Comcast Cable Channel 17, so get those DVRs ready!

The Rainbow Connection is a local independent broadcaster here in Memphis. On the air since 1980, the show's mission is to bring you the perfect balance of news, educational programming and entertainment, all on one television program. The Rainbow Connection is also a proud supporter of community events and local charities.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Meet Dylan Kuehl

Dylan Kuehl, an individual with Down syndrome, was on featured on Biz Kid$, a TV show on PBS about how kids can make and manage money. Dylan has a real passion for the arts and has turned that passion into a money-making enterprise with his own studio DK Arts Visual and Performing Arts Company. It's an awesome story and one that should serve as an inspiration to everyone.



You can also check out Dylan's website at www.DylanKArts.com.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Arc's statement pertaining to President Obama

By now, everyone's aware of President Obama's inappropriate joke from last week's appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The following is the statement issued by The Arc in the Monday Morning Memo, which features news of interest for members of The Arc and their families.

Obama Gaffe Makes the News, Town Hall Meeting Statement was Largely Missed

Late last week and over the weekend we witnessed an explosion in news coverage of President Obama's unfortunate joking comment about bowling "like Special Olympics." While that coverage is justified, it has been relatively limited in terms of any serious exploration of the current day challenges facing people with disabilities and their families -- an opportunity missed. The superficial news coverage of the gaffe also missed out on an opportunity to call attention to the President's expressed commitment to an aggressive disability policy agenda (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/disabilities/) which he had reaffirmed at a Town Hall meeting the previous day. In case you haven't seen it, the following is the question asked by one of the Town Hall participants and the President's response:

QUESTION:

I’m Gary Carr, and Mr. President, thank God for you. (Applause.) Sir, my question regards the true renaissance that’s happening with people with disabilities. They are an emerging population — millions of people with more potential in capacity, more mobile, more educated, more healthy, more empowered technology, but still trapped in very, very old social models that see them in terms of tragedy and charity and need and care. And the modern population of people with disabilities simply does not fit that model.

And as your plan succeeds and you generate these jobs, and as baby boomers retire, we’re going to need every single person of capacity to work that we can. And that must include many, many, many thousands, if not millions, of people with disabilities. (Applause.)

So — I see you nodding your head, so my first question is, do you subscribe to what I’m saying, and next of all, can you talk about how your disability agenda will release this emerging potential that’s currently wasted and untapped?

THE PRESIDENT:

Well, you are exactly right, that we need everybody. And every program that we have has to be thinking on the front end, how do we make sure that it is inclusive, and building into it our ability to draw on the capacities of persons with disabilities.

That’s true on the education front, where our recovery package increases funding for children with disabilities. It is true in terms of how Hilda Solis, our Secretary of Labor, will be thinking about our training programs, to make sure that we are not excluding from training for high-tech jobs, the new jobs of the future, persons with disability.

It means enforcing the ADA and fighting back on some court opinions that have tried to narrow in ways that I think are inappropriate the original intent of that legislation.

So one of the things that I think is important is to make sure, as you pointed out, that we don’t see this as an afterthought, a segregated program, but we are infusing every department, every agency, every act that we take with a mindfulness about the importance of persons with disabilities, their skills, their talents, their capacity.

That I think is the approach that my administration is going to take, and we hope that by taking that approach that attitude will infuse state and local governments that are also receiving federal money. Okay?

Our Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was great!

wheelchair, basketball, Arc of the Mid-SouthWe wrapped up our “March Madness” events Saturday with our 13th annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. We had 14 teams from local businesses take wheelchair, basketball, Arc of the Mid-South to the court Saturday morning to duke it out for the championship, with the Hershey Company’s Team Icebreakers defeating the Twizzler Tweeterz to claim the trophy (pictured to right).

We want to give special recognition to all the other teams that participated as well. They were:
  • Sam’s Club of Bartlett

  • Sam’s Club on Getwell

  • Sam’s Club on Winchester

  • Sam’s Club on Covington Pike

  • Sam’s Club Southaven

  • Shelby Residential & Vocational Services (SRVS)

  • Shelby County Sheriff’s Office

  • Hershey’s Company

  • FedEx (Internal Audit Division)

  • Tact Unit

  • Memphis Fire Department

  • The Arc of the Mid-South

We want to give a special thanks to The Rollin’ Grizzlies, who not only participated as a team, but also donated the wheelchairs for our teams to use. We certainly couldn’t have pulled off such a great event without their support.

All in all, March Madness was a big success for us. We met with our legislators on Capitol Hill, received recognition from local government, exposed area high school students with disabilities to job opportunities, and helped raise awareness and funds with the Wheelchair Basketball Tournament over the weekend. Thank you to everyone who volunteered their time, energy, and talents to help make all these events possible. You really did help make a difference in somebody’s life.

Another fourth place finish for Luke and Margie

Luke Adams, Amazing Race, Developmental DisabilityLuke and Margie Adams advanced to the 7th leg of The Amazing Race with another fourth place finish last night. Their ventures took them from the freezing cold of Siberia to the heat of India. As part of their roadblock, the mother and son combo donned a traditional Indian costume and danced in the streets of Jaipur until they collected 100 Rs in tips.

Luke Adams is the first contestant in the 14-year history of The Amazing Race who is deaf. He and his mother Margie have won two legs of the race so far this season and have proven to be one of the toughest teams remaining on the show.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Tomorrow!

Hey everybody, just a real quick reminder that we are hosting out 13th annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament tomorrow at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. The first game tips off at 9:30. We hope to see you there.

We are also hosting an Agency Informational Fair to provide information to people who need help in finding outlets to motivate and help individuals withdisabilities. It will provide parents, caregivers, and self-advocates an opportunity to learn about the various disability-related organizations and agencies available in Memphis and surrounding area.

Come out and enjoy fun, food, and excitement as 14 teams compete for the title of 2009 Champions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Joe Birch will moderate Awards Gala/Fundraiser

Great news regarding our 14th Annual Awards Gala/Fundraiser - Joe Birch has confirmed as our moderator. As one of the most recognizable faces and voices in Memphis, his addition to the event is certainly a boost.

Be sure to check back often as we'll be posting more details about the event as they are confirmed. We hope to announce our keynote speaker soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

3-Day Job Readiness Workshop and Career Fair was a Huge Success

We had a busy week last week, but it was well worth it. Students from eight area high schools and some of our Career Development and Job Placement (CDJP) students gathered at Anointed Temple of Praise (ATOP) last Wednesday through Friday for our annual Job Readiness Workshop and Career Fair.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the students broke into small groups and listened to our guest speakers present sessions on relevant topics such as “Goal Setting”, “Interview Skills”, “Work Ethic”, and “Dressing for Success”. On Friday, local companies came and talked with the students about some employment opportunities that they had available. There were also mock interviews arranged with some our CDJP staff so the students could have a better idea about what to expect.

All in all, it was a great time for everyone involved. All the feedback we received from the teachers and students was wonderful. With the employment numbers so low for individuals with disabilities, last week was a great chance to really make a difference in somebody’s life.

Don’t forget, this Saturday is our 13th Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. We’d love to see you there on the court, as a volunteer, or as a spectator. Be sure to call (901) 327-2473 or email Ruth Kirby for more information.

Luke and Margie win again!

For the second time this season, Luke and Margie Adams claimed first place on a leg of The Amazing Race on CBS. They braved the freezing cold of Siberia, maneuvered cumbersome snow plows, and Luke even ran a mini-marathon in his underwear to arrive at the mat first. The mother/son duo received a trip for two to St. Lucia for their efforts.

Luke is the first contestant who is deaf to be on the show. He and his mom Margie have proven to be one of the strongest teams this season and a real threat to claim the $1M prize at the end of the season.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Neat Story out of Pennsylvania

There’s a great piece on ESPN.com by columnist Rick Reilly about Matt Steven, a high school kid who is blind. He’s a big basketball fan and has always enjoyed being around the game and is actually on a competitive Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) team in Upper Darby, PA. He shoots free throws at all the team’s practices and typically makes about half of them.

His coach (who happens to be his brother) requested and was granted the ability to use Matt as the team’s designated free throw shooter at all their games so he can participate with all his friends. His first game, he knocked down his first 2 free throws before finishing the day 4-8. His second game played out like the script of a movie. He stepped to the free throw line in the waning seconds of the game and his team down one point and calmly knocked down both shots for the victory.

It’s a quick read and definitely worthwhile. Check it out when you get a chance.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Fourth Place finish for Luke and Margie

Luke and Margie Adams finished fourth for a third consecutive leg on The Amazing Race on CBS. The mother/son duo survived wood-stacking and a bobsled ride in the chill of Siberia to post another strong finish. Luke is the first contestant in the show's history who is deaf. Through the first four legs of the race, he and Margie have won over the respect of their fellow racers, as well as the hearts of America.

Friday, March 6, 2009

No Myths PSA on Autism

For those of you haven’t seen it, there’s a new PSA called "No Myths" that offers a refreshingly positive and optimistic view about life with autism. The piece itself was written by individuals who are on the autism spectrum themselves. Sponsored by the Dan Marino Foundation, the purpose of the PSA is to tell society that, with the right supports, people with autism can do anything anybody else can do, even if it isn't in the same way.

The piece was filmed here in Tennessee, inside the Parthenon in Nashville. This is a powerful piece and a much-watch, even if you don’t have loved ones with autism. Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network leads a cast that includes {in order of appearance} Dena Gassner, Ben Liske, and Jacob Pratt.

The Dan Marino Foundation was founded by Dan Marino and his wife Claire. The former Miami Dolphins quarterback is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals living with disabilities. From the No Myths website, the Dan Marino Foundation "sponsors innovative research through the Marino Autism Research Institute, supports the delivery of comprehensive therapies through the Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center, and is on the leading edge of developing new programs for helping young adults with disabilities transition from school to life”.
The foundation’s dedication to improving lives doesn’t stop there though. It also runs Childnett.tv, a free 24/7 web channel on autism and other disabilities. The foundation is also currently developing an issue-based social networking site for people with autism, called AUTube.tv.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Madness is Here!

March Madness is off and running this week, as we’ve had two events at City Hall. Tuesday afternoon, we were presented with a Resolution from the Memphis City Council, acknowledging March as National Disability Awareness Month. Councilman Harold Collins was wonderful as he gave a brief background of The Arc and its mission to advocate for the disability community before presenting Carlene Leaper, our Executive Director, with the Resolution. This was a great step for The Arc and much needed public attention was given. Mrs. Leaper ended the presentation with a warm thank you that included the purpose and mission of The Arc and National Disability Awareness Month.

Earlier today, we headed back to City Hall to receive a proclamation signed by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton. Allison Fouche’, Communications Specialist for the Office of the Mayor, presented me with the resolution in a small ceremony in The Hall of Mayors. I spoke a little about The Arc of the Mid-South and the other events we have coming up this month. We also have received proclamations from Sharon Goldsworthy, Mayor of Germantown, and Keith McDonald, Mayor of Bartlett.

We certainly want to thank everyone who attended these events or helped make them possible. March is a very important month for us and our missions, and we couldn’t do it without your support. We look forward to the rest of the month.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another solid showing for Margie and Luke

Sunday night’s episode of The Amazing Race saw Margie and Luke turn in another strong performance. Together they successfully navigated a gymnastics lesson in Romania and the forests of Transylvania to finish fourth for a second consecutive week. Luke is the show’s first contestant who is deaf. He and his mother Margie have used their strong relationship and communication skills to keep pace with the rest of the racers.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Community News and Events (2/27/2009)

Parent Luncheon
Tuesday, March 3rd, 12:00 pm
Benjamin Hooks Library
Memphis, TN


Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) and the Memphis Delta Interagency Coordinating Council (MDICC) are hosting a FREE Parent Luncheon for parents with young children who have special needs. The Luncheon will be held at Benjamin Hooks Central Library. TEIS works with children birth to three and the MDICC is comprised of Early Intervention Agencies, Rehabilitation Agencies, local school systems, Head Start, and various community agencies.

Their goal is to assess the availability and access to services for these families, and to increase public awareness about Early Intervention and services offered through the schools and Head Starts in Memphis, Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties. The guest speaker will be Julie Coffey from the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood and Youth. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Gretchen Dickerson at 901-287-4503.

How to Choose a Preschool
March 3rd, 6:30-8:30 PM
Baptist Women's Hospital


This workshop will help parents who are in the process of choosing a preschool for their child. This is a panel led discussion, which will include a parent, school system specialist, and private preschool director. There is no charge for this workshop but you must register by contacting the DSAM office at (901) 547-7588.

Memphis City Schools Parent Meeting:
Transition: From School to Work
March 10th, 9:00-11:00 AM
MCS Bond Building


This free session open to all parents and family members. For more info, please call Annette Vaughan (901) 416-0161.

March Madness Kick-off
Thursday, March 5th
City Hall


Join The Arc of the Mid-South at Memphis City Hall as the City Council signs a proclamation to kick-off National Disability Awareness Month. Contact Jennifer Buchanan at (901) 327-2473 or here for more information.

Sibshops
Fridays, March 6th and April 3rd, 6:00-8:00 pm

Sibshops are for children ages 7-12 years old who have a brother or sister with developmental disabilities and special health needs. Sibshops provide opportunities to obtain peer support and education by interspersing discussion and sharing with high-energy games, crafts, and fun activities that give kids a chance to build new friendships and find support in a recreational context! Pizza dinner provided. Cost is $10 per child per session. Scholarships are available. For more info or registration, please contact Jennifer Washburn here or (901) 448-6670.

Sponsored by: The Harwood Center Inc., Hope Presbyterian Church, and The UT Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities.

3-Day Job Readiness Workshop
Wednesday - Friday, March 11-13
Memphis, TN


ATTENTION TEACHERS! The Arc of the Mid-South’s Career Development program will host a three-day workshop at Anointed Temple of Praise to provide job readiness training for students with disabilities. If you are interested in participating, contact Jennifer Buchanan at 901-327-2473 or here for more information.

Dinner and a Movie at The Exceptional Foundation
March 13th, 6:00-9:30PM and March 21st, 6:00-9:00PM
The Excpetional Foundation


Pizza and Karaoke Party with Own Our Own and The Exceptional Foundation @ The Exceptional Foundation. The Exceptional Foundation is located at 1780 Moriah Woods Boulevard, Suite 4, Memphis, TN 38117. Questions about weekend events and/or The Exceptional Foundation, please contact (901)-387-5002.

Wheelchair Basketball Tournament and Information Fair
Saturday, March 21st
Memphis, TN


Teams from city and county government, local businesses and other supporters will come together to play wheelchair basketball in honor of Disability Awareness Month. There will also be an information fair to showcase other organizations that offer services to those with disabilities. The events will be held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. If you would like to enter a team in the tournament, contact Ruth Kirby at The Arc of the Mid-South (901) 507-8569 or here.

2009 DISABILITY POLICY SEMINAR
Monday - Wednesday, April 27th-29th
A New Era: Embracing Opportunities in the Face of Grave Challenges
Washington, DC


Check out http://www.aaidd.org/content_1523.cfm for more information.
Announcements

* Registration is now open for the Inaugural Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters (TABS) Conference. Topics covered will include Future Planning, Caring for the Caregiver, Legislation & Advocacy, Family Dynamics & Relationships, and Research.

The Conference will take place April 3-4, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Holiday Inn Select at Vanderbilt. The conference fee is $45, which includes registration fee, a conference t-shirt, meals, and conference materials. For more information on the conference and to register, click here or call (615) 322-8529 x15. Please register by March 3, 2009.

* On Thursday, April 30, 2009, the State Board of Education will hold a rulemaking hearing regarding the proposed rule regarding restraint and isolation of students receiving special education services. The hearing will be from 10 - 11 a.m. CDT, at 710 James Robertson Pkwy, 1st Floor Conf. Rm., Andrew Johnson Tower,Nashville TN 37243.

Whether or not you attend the meeting, comments received by 4:30 p.m. CST on Friday, May 1, 2009, will be considered prior to the Board considering the rule on final reading. The State Board of Education will then be able to consider the rule on final reading at its next regular meeting in August. If you need additional information or wish to submit comments, please use the following contact information:
Email | Phone: (615) 741-2966 | Fax: 615-741-0371
State Board of Education
710 James Robertson Pkwy, 9th Floor
Nashville TN 37243

* The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities is preparing to host its 9th annual Youth Leadership Forum, June 29-July 2, 2009, on Vanderbilt University's campus. They are seeking high school students with disabilities - rising 10th graders through those who will graduate in 2009 - to participate in a four-day advocacy and leadership training program.

During the course of the four days, students will attend sessions on leadership, employment, community involvement and college resources for students with disabilities. The deadline for submissions is February 27, 2009. Only fully completed applications will be considered. For more information, please contact Ned Andrew Solomon, Director, Tennessee Youth Leadership Forum, 615-532-6556 or here.

* The Arc of Tennessee's Secondary Transition Project announces openings for workshops across the state this Spring. It's never too early or too late to begin planning your child's transition from school to adult life, but by the time s/he is 14, the formal planning should be under way. This can be a confusing and scary process for parents who have worked to protect their children with disabilities. For more information about the Secondary Transition Project, visit The Arc of Tennessee's Website. Please note that the NEW Secondary Transition Family Handbook is available at a button near the bottom of the page. To schedule a workshop near you, contact either Treva Maitland here or by phone (731) 559-4187, or Loria Richardson here or phone (615) 215-2065.

* The Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee will be opening their doors Monday, March 2nd @ 8:00a.m!! Please call 901-387-5003 to set up an appointment if you would like to view the facilities with your loved one and talk with the staff. We welcome appointments at any time, so do not hesitate to call! The Exceptional Foundation is a non-profit organization, serving mentally challenged individuals of all ages in Memphis and Shelby County by targeting social and recreational objectives. The Exceptional Foundation gives our participants the opportunity to attend various field trips, the possibility of competing in sporting activities, and the chance to socialize and meet new people in supportive settings.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2009 Disability Days on the Hill

We had a great time in Nashville yesterday at Disability Days on the Hill. We were just one of several organizations that work with individuals with disabilities there meeting with our legislators, discussing important issues to the disability community. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t have a good time and feel that it was time well-spent.

Our main focus fell on two issues: The Open Doors Home Health Care Act and preserving the Family Support Program.

The Open Doors Home Health Care Act (Senate Bill 851/House Bill 1114) is a simple 1-page bill that would remove the 2008 TennCare restrictions on home health care and re-open doors to the community. The current rules generally forbid home health care aides and private duty nurses from leaving an individual’s home while providing services to them. These rules prevent them from taking their clients to church, classes, work, community activities, or even a doctor’s appointment, effectively isolating them from the community and world around them.

The Family Support Program is a program that helps individuals with severe disabilities and their families stay together in their homes and communities. It is a critical service that helps preserve the family unit and lessens pressure that may lead to institutionalization, divorce, neglect, and child abuse. About $1M has already been cut from the program in the current fiscal year and there is talk of cutting as much as an additional $2M more, which would be nearly 40% of the budget cut from one of the state’s most successful program.

We received positive feedback from all the senators and representatives we spoke with. If you weren’t able to make the trip with us yesterday, it’s not too late for your voice to be heard. You can find your legislator here. We encourage you call, email, or write and let your voice be heard.

Check back later for pictures from our trip.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Join The Arc of the Mid-South at the 2009 Volunteer Expo

Have you ever wanted to really make a difference in somebody's life, but weren't sure where to start? Come see The Arc of the Mid-South on Thursday, February 26, from 4–7 PM at the Oak Court Mall for the 2009 Volunteer Expo presented by Volunteer Mid-South and MPACT Memphis. We'll be just one of several local non-profit organizations showcasing their programs and volunteer opportunities to community members. The event is free and open to the public. Click the image for more details.

We will be there signing up new volunteers and getting information into the community about our organization. We will also have representation from our Family Services department available to give information on the 2009 Respite Weekend Retreats and Summer Camp, both of which are excellent volunteer opportunities.

If you are interested in volunteering or receiving more information about The Arc of the Mid-South, come on out and join in the fun on Thursday at the Oak Court Mall. See you there!

For a complete list of agencies that will be there, click here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Luke and Margie on The Amazing Race


In another example of a person with a disability shattering negative stereotypes, this season of The Amazing Race on CBS features Luke Adams, the show’s first contestant who is deaf. Luke has been deaf since birth and has relied on Margie to be his voice to the world. The pair has developed their own shorthand sign language, and hope that their ability to communicate non-verbally will give them something of an advantage as the race wears on.

Through two legs, Luke and his mom Margie have emerged as one of the strongest teams on the show. They won the first leg of the race which aired last Sunday, taking home a trip for two to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for their efforts. In the episode that aired last night, a cake-covered Luke and Margie arrived at the mat 4th, keeping them in good position to be serious challengers as the race progresses.

Luke hopes that his appearance on The Amazing Race will be an inspiration to other individuals who are deaf. From the official The Amazing Race page on CBS.com, Luke says he wants to “be a role-model for deaf people everywhere while proving that the deaf can do just about anything and to never think otherwise”. He’s already won over his competition, as many have expressed that sentiment. Judging by the show's fan page, it appears he’s winning over the public too.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Community News and Events (2/20/2009)

EVENTS

Epilepsy Matters Conference
Saturday, February 21st, 9am-2pm
Highland Park Conference Center
Jackson, TN


Admission is free but please register by calling Megan Long at (901) 507-8568 or emailing her (here) or logging on to the web site (www.epilepsytn.org) and click on EVENTS. Contact Judy Dorris at (866) 650-0500.

Special Needs Planning Webinar
Wednesday, February 25th, 7:00 - 9:30pm
Hosted by Exceptional Parent Magazine
URL:
www.epliveonline.com

Exceptional Parent Magazine invites you to participate in a webinar on Special Needs Planning. Join a Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor, a third-party special needs trust attorney, and a representative from a third-party disability organization as they discuss the financial, legal and social challenges faced by families like yours. (Please note that neither Merrill Lynch nor its personnel provide tax, accounting, or legal advice).

The webinar is available in two convenient formats: Live, one-way audio/video streamed with e-mail chat or Archived (viewed online after the event). For more information, please click here.

Dance Lessons
Thursday, February 26th, 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Pickering Center
Germantown, TN


Germantown Parks and Recreation offer Special Recreation Activities: Dance lessons taught by the River City Boppers. Pizza, snacks and soft drinks will be served. Special Recreation activities are free for teens and adults with intellectual or physical disabilities and their friends and families. For information, contact Michelle McDonnell at (901) 757-7382 or email her here.

Parent Luncheon
Tuesday, March 3rd, 12:00 pm
Benjamin Hooks Library
Memphis, TN


Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) and the Memphis Delta Interagency Coordinating Council (MDICC) are hosting a FREE Parent Luncheon for parents with young children who have special needs. The Luncheon will be held at Benjamin Hooks Central Library. TEIS works with children birth to three and the MDICC is comprised of Early Intervention Agencies, Rehabilitation Agencies, local school systems, Head Start, and various community agencies.

Their goal is to assess the availability and access to services for these families, and to increase public awareness about Early Intervention and services offered through the schools and Head Starts in Memphis, Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties. The guest speaker will be Julie Coffey from the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood and Youth. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Gretchen Dickerson at 901-287-4503.

March Madness Kick-off
Thursday, March 5th
City Hall


Join The Arc of the Mid-South at Memphis City Hall as the City Council signs a proclamation to kick-off National Disability Awareness Month. Contact Jennifer Buchanan at (901) 327-2473 or here for more information.

Sibshops
Fridays, March 6th and April 3rd, 6:00-8:00 pm

Sibshops are for children ages 7-12 years old who have a brother or sister with developmental disabilities and special health needs. Sibshops provide opportunities to obtain peer support and education by interspersing discussion and sharing with high-energy games, crafts, and fun activities that give kids a chance to build new friendships and find support in a recreational context! Pizza dinner provided. Cost is $10 per child per session. Scholarships are available. For more info or registration, please contact Jennifer Washburn here or (901) 448-6670.

Sponsored by: The Harwood Center Inc., Hope Presbyterian Church & The UT Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities.

3-Day Job Readiness Workshop
Wednesday - Friday, March 11-13
Memphis, TN


ATTENTION TEACHERS! The Arc of the Mid-South’s Career Development program will host a three-day workshop at Anointed Temple of Praise to provide job readiness training for students with disabilities. If you are interested in participating, contact Jennifer Buchanan at 901-327-2473 or here for more information.

Wheelchair Basketball Tournament and Information Fair
Saturday, March 21st
Memphis, TN


Teams from city and county government, local businesses and other supporters will come together to play wheelchair basketball in honor of Disability Awareness Month. There will also be an information fair to showcase other organizations that offer services to those with disabilities. The events will be held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. If you would like to enter a team in the tournament, contact Ruth Kirby at The Arc of the Mid-South (901) 507-8569 or here.

2009 DISABILITY POLICY SEMINAR
Monday - Wednesday, April 27th-29th
A New Era: Embracing Opportunities in the Face of Grave Challenges
Washington, DC


Check out http://www.aaidd.org/content_1523.cfm for more information.
Announcements

* Registration is now open for the Inaugural Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters (TABS) Conference. Topics covered will include Future Planning, Caring for the Caregiver, Legislation & Advocacy, Family Dynamics & Relationships, and Research.

The Conference will take place April 3-4, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Holiday Inn Select at Vanderbilt. The conference fee is $45, which includes registration fee, a conference t-shirt, meals, and conference materials. For more information on the conference and to register, click here or call (615) 322-8529 x15. Please register by March 3, 2009.

* The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities is preparing to host its 9th annual Youth Leadership Forum, June 29-July 2, 2009, on Vanderbilt University's campus. They are seeking high school students with disabilities - rising 10th graders through those who will graduate in 2009 - to participate in a four-day advocacy and leadership training program.

During the course of the four days, students will attend sessions on leadership, employment, community involvement and college resources for students with disabilities. The deadline for submissions is February 27, 2009. Only fully completed applications will be considered. For more information, please contact Ned Andrew Solomon, Director, Tennessee Youth Leadership Forum, 615-532-6556 or here.

* The Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee will be opening their doors Monday, March 2nd @ 8:00a.m!! Please call 901-387-5003 to set up an appointment if you would like to view the facilities with your loved one and talk with the staff. We welcome appointments at any time, so do not hesitate to call! The Exceptional Foundation is a non-profit organization, serving mentally challenged individuals of all ages in Memphis and Shelby County by targeting social and recreational objectives. The Exceptional Foundation gives our participants the opportunity to attend various field trips, the possibility of competing in sporting activities, and the chance to socialize and meet new people in supportive settings.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Less Than One Week Until Disability Days on the Hill

Tennessee Disability Days on the Hill
Our celebration of National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month kicks off next Wednesday as we head to Nashville for the West Tennessee Disability Days on the Hill. Disability Days seeks to empower people with disabilities, their families, and friends, offering a unique opportunity for constituents to connect with their legislators to discuss issues important to their families and the disability community.

Our main focus will likely be preserving Tennessee’s Family Support Program. The Family Support Program has endured pretty significant budget cuts and it looks like more may be coming in 2009. This is the only state program that gives money to individuals and family members with disabilities. There is already a notable shortage of services for the disability community in TN. With a small program like Family Support receiving cuts, this does nothing but harm the disability community at large.

We would like every legislator to hear from someone in their community. Since not everyone can make the trip to Nashville, we encourage you to reach out to your legislators this month with phone calls, emails, or maybe a personal visit in your hometown. Click here to find your legislator.

As a community, the general public must join together to develop and implement public policies that will promote individual worth, self respect, and dignity so that each individual is valued as a contributing member and citizen of its community.

Middle Tennessee Disability Days on the Hill is Wednesday, March 4th, and East Tennessee is Wednesday, March 11th. For more information, please visit the Tennessee Disability Coalition.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

March Madness 2009 Events

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and to celebrate the month and its importance, The Arc of the Mid-South has put together a series of events open to the general public.

Disability Days on the Hill
Wednesday, February 25th


Though technically a few days before March begins, Disability Days on the Hill is a key component of the March Madness celebration. The Arc of the Mid-South will be hosting a bus trip to the Capitol in Nashville. This is your chance to speak with legislators about issues important to you and your family. For more information, please contact Megan Long in our Advocacy Department at (901) 507-8568 or mlong -at- arcmidsouth -dot- net.

March Madness Kick-off
Thursday, March 5th


Join The Arc of the Mid-South as we kick off National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month at Memphis City Hall with the local mayors’ proclamations on display as well as other information about our organization. For more information, please contact Jennifer Buchanan at (901) 327-2473 or jbuchanan -at- arcmidsouth -dot- net.

Job Readiness Workshop
Wednesday-Friday, March 11-13
Anointed Temple of Praise


The Arc of the Mid-South's Career Development and Job Placement (CDJP) program will host a three-day job readiness training for students with disabilities. Wednesday and Thursday will feature classes that help prepare the students for everything from the interview process to time management to goal setting. Friday, local employers will be on site to talk with students about available opportunities. Please contact Jennifer Buchanan at (901) 327-2473 or jbuchanan -at- arcmidsouth -dot- net.

Wheelchair Basketball Tournament and Information Fair
Saturday, March 21
Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church


The 13th annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament will once again take place at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. Teams from city and county government, local businesses, and other Arc supporters will come together to play wheelchair basketball in honor of Developmental Disability Awareness Month.

This year, we're also hosting our Information Fair during the basketball tournament. Other organizations in the area that work with those with disabilities will be on site with information about themselves and services they offer.

To register a team for the Wheelchair Basketball tournament or to find out more about the Information Fair, please contact Ruth Kirby at (901) 507-8569 or rkirby -at- arcmidsouth -dot- net.