March marks National Development Disabilities Awareness Month


FITCHBURG — In celebration of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, The Arc of Opportunity along with Unitil, erected a banner on Main Street to join in raising awareness about issues facing people with disabilities.

Over the last 60 years, The Arc and its network of more than 700 chapters across the country 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 that President Ronald Reagan officially declared March to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987.

In a recent Community Leaders Briefing at the White House for 150 Arc leaders including The Arc of Opportunity CEO Mary Heafy, President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance and spoke of his commitment to people with disabilities saying, “I’ve got your back.”

In this pivotal election year, The Arc of Opportunity is joining national efforts to raise awareness about disability related policy on the campaign trail. In 2008, only 46% of people with I/DD who were eligible to vote actually did so. Together chapters of The Arc nationwide are working to improve voting rates in I/DD community for 2012 and educate candidates about the issues that matter most to the I/DD community. Individuals with disabilities have the right to vote, and the goal of the campaign is to encourage them not only to vote but also to speak out about the topics that are important to them. By supporting The Arc’s “We’ve Got The Power!” campaign, The Arc of Opportunity is working to engage voters and candidates throughout Massachusetts during the crucial months leading up to Election Day. To learn more about the “We’ve Got the Power!” campaign, visit The Arc’s blog at

The Arc would like to invite you to lend your support to the nearly 180,000 men, women, and children living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. On April 29, 2012, eight chapters of The Arc in the state of Massachusetts will host their second Annual All Aboard the Arc signature event.

This inspiring event is truly as much about the "journey" as the destination. Drawing on the run-walk-ride fundraising concept, and inclusive of people of all abilities, last year, teams of participants and sponsors successfully raised over $255,000 for seats on fun-filled buses that set off from eight regions of the state to The Hanover Theater in Worcester, MA.

This year, The Arc will continue their journey of awareness by raising funds to caravan buses to Boston’s historic John Hancock Hall for a lively rally and performance highlighting the inspirational "Abilities of People with Disabilities". It is a day for everyone in the community to stop and join the journey for people with disabilities!

Help raise awareness by coming aboard and joining the fun by visiting or call the All Aboard The Arc recruiting manager, Jennifer Peck, at 978-343-6662.