Grandparents of young man with disability work to advocate, raise awareness
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Empower Yourself, Empower Someone Else
Larry and Brenda Hinson have worked diligently for years to ensure that people with disabilities have a voice. Larry serves as chair for The Arc of Stanly Advisory Committee and Brenda is the chairperson of the Monarch Board of Directors. As grandparents of a young man with disabilities they know firsthand what tremendous hurdles people with disabilities, their family members and guardians often face. It’s difficult for people to navigate local, state and federal systems in an attempt to get much needed and quality services.
“We continue our efforts because we want the needs and desires of all people with intellectual/cognitive disabilities to be met. I feel that on a local level, the need is great for people to volunteer their time and talents with the people we support,” said Larry Hinson. “We are very active in the community with advocacy and projects. Our disability policy awareness includes staying abreast of local, state and federal issues that impact the people we support.” This year there is much at risk for the approximately 4.6 million Americans who live with developmental disabilities. As Congress continues budget negotiations, the entitlement programs that provide an essential lifeline for individuals with I/DD are expected to take center stage. In coming months, there will be mounting pressure to generate additional revenue and to make additional cuts in the federal budget to reduce the deficit further, which puts at risk the Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security programs.
“We accept all invitations to speak with legislators, elected officials or community groups because often they do not understand the impact of their actions when funding is cut,” explained Hinson, who with his wife, Brenda, are members of local, state and US Arc and serve on the board of directors for Arc NC. “We are in agreement with cutting wasteful spending however; this should not impact the needs of the people we support.”
The Arc’s advocates in counties across North Carolina and those nationwide will be vigilant, putting pressure on members of the state’s delegation in Congress to protect these lifeline programs that so many people in the state rely on. The Arc of Stanly and Monarch will join more than 700 other chapters across the country, and national efforts to advocate on behalf of the disability community during this crucial time.
The Hinsons and members from The Arc of Stanly Advisory Committee make phone calls, send emails and visit with local, state and federal officials. They provide local advocacy, which includes working with families who have hit road blocks or need support for meetings. They also provide insight and support for people and families who seek funding.
Each year, The Arc of Stanly Advisory Committee adopts a group home in an effort to foster social capital. The members get to know the people living in the homes and find commonalities that often develop into friendships that continue. If there is a person who loves to read this may be a natural support way to connect that individual with a local book club. There have been connections made with other social groups that often then partner with the home. They take residents to ballgames, on boat rides, host cookouts, and ensure residents get what they need.
Although the Hinsons and others work diligently every day throughout the year to help raise awareness and provide support for people with disabilities and their families, March was officially designated as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 26 years ago by President Ronald Reagan. This year’s theme is “Empower Yourself, Empower Someone Else.” The Arc of Stanly County and Monarch will join thousands of individuals nationwide to raise awareness throughout the month of March about issues facing people with disabilities. Over the last 60 years, The Arc and its network of more than 700 chapters have made tremendous progress in promoting and protecting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). It is due greatly to the advocacy efforts of The Arc.
To become a member of The Arc of Stanly, to learn more about advocacy or how you can get involved, visit http://monarchnc.org/the-arc/thearcofstanlycounty or call (704) 986-1519. To learn more about Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, click here.
Pictured above: Larry and Brenda Hinson serve as statewide advocates for people with disabilities.