Recently I attended a meeting with Arc Minnesota that was held in Brainerd. The Executive Directors of Arc Chapters from around the state connect regularly to share ideas, problem solve and keep abreast of what is happening across the state in the areas of public policy.
On my way back to St. Cloud I took a few minutes to swing by the old Brainerd State hospital which originally opened in 1958. Today the buildings are, for the most part, vacant; a few programs operating out of a couple buildings. The windows are bare – allowing a peek inside at empty rooms that once were filled with more than 1,330 patients, i.e. children and adults with special needs. I tried to imagine what it might have been like for parents who pulled into that driveway and viewed the multiple buildings for the first time. No doubt they felt a mixture of sorrow, anxiety, fear and relief. I also thought about how that same view might look to the individual who was arriving there to live, often-times far from family and all that was familiar.
Looking back into recent history provides us with an opportunity to thank the leaders of the original Arc grass-roots movement. Parents, in reaching out – seeking resources to help meet the critical needs of their children and families – found each other. They started small groups all over the country huddled around kitchen tables over coffee. We are grateful to these pioneers who found the courage to stand up for the changes that were needed and the stamina to make those changes happen.
Thank you to the faithful few who remain among us. May we honor your determined efforts to create opportunities and increased quality of life for your children and may we find and keep the passion needed to protect and improve services for our children. I wonder too, how do we compare?