Being removed from your home and sent to live alone in an institution was a cruel reality prior to the 1950s for Prince George’s County children struggling with physical and mental limitations.
Seventy years ago, in 1952, a movement was born to keep children who were labeled as retarded out of state-run institutions regardless of age, race, gender, or religion. A collection of local families decided enough-was-enough and established a group that would work to provide a lifetime of support and understanding for children who were the most vulnerable. Alas, The Arc Prince George’s County was brought to life.
This process evolved over time as the disability service provider network began to grow and change. Once institutionalization was eliminated across America, agencies like The Arc began to develop the day programs that allowed individuals to mix with others like themselves who had similar disabilities. Together, they could socialize and offer their families respite during the day. Fast forward to the 21st century and there has been a shift toward community integration and inclusion. This meant closing day programs and tailoring daily community-based activities and programs to the abilities – not disabilities – and interests of individuals. No longer did one size fit all.