Riverside, CA (PRWEB) January 22, 2014
A massive mosaic, called “The National Wall of Respect,” captivated people for its sheer size and beauty and for the dignity the mosaic bestows upon developmentally disabled people.
More than 200 people and Southern California CEO Magazine attended the recent unveiling of the 40-feet long by eight-feet tall mosaic on a concrete wall at the Arc of Riverside County’s main office in Riverside. “It’s one of a kind. You don’t see many mosaics this size. This is a very large, very complex art work. It’s nationally significant from that perspective in addition to the message it carries,” said Mike Gardner, Riverside City Councilmember.
The Arc of Riverside County, a national private non-profit corporation that offers job training and other services for developmentally disabled people, commissioned the “The National Wall of Respect” mosaic to honor its clients and commemorate its 60th anniversary in the city of Riverside.
The mosaic prominently depicts developmentally disabled people as part of the fabric of Riverside. Arc of Riverside County Executive Director, Jim Stream, said they wanted a visual presentation to show the value of developmentally disabled people, and to spark a national conversation about people typically relegated to someplace out of sight. “Where ever you are, it’s the same way,” he said. “These people do not get equal justice. They’re not respected as they should be respected, and they just don’t get included in the community as they should.”
Arc’s effort to help integrate developmentally disabled people into everyday community life has also become more tenuous over the last several years due to state budget cuts. The quality of service is less, and Arc serves fewer people, said Stream.
The legislature needs to understand state funding is critical to nurturing the potential of people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, said Tony Anderson, Arc of California Executive Director. “It’s not charity,” he said. “It’s just people that need a little extra help and they’ll be as productive as anybody else in society.”
“These people fight,” said Stan Morrison, Arc of Riverside County Board Member. “They live great lives because there are people assisting them in the process.”
The funding issue makes the “The National Wall of Respect” even more important. “It brings awareness, not just to Riverside, but all over the United States about what’s happening with people with disabilities,” said Bud Luppino, Arc of Riverside County Board Member.
Conveying that message fell on mosaic artists Erin Maxwell and her parents, Greg and Cathy Maxwell. They started assembling the 50,000 piece mosaic in March. Some of Arc’s developmentally disabled clients helped over the seven month project. “It’s the culmination of creativity, of a message of respect, dignity and inclusion for all people,” Erin Maxwell said. “It has been a dream working on this with my parents as artists, and as citizens of Riverside. It’s so exciting.”
Her parents were equally elated. “When we first started, I didn’t believe we could actually get this much done in the time we had allowed. I’m so proud of what we got done,” said Greg Maxwell.
“It’s been such a wonderful journey for us. We can’t believe it’s finally done,” said Cathy Maxwell.
Riverside City Councilman, Jim Perry, called “The National Wall of Respect” a great community effort. “I think others (cities) should take a close look at this. This is inspiration. This is motivation,” he said. “I think any individual or organization or entity just needs to take a look at this mural and use that as motivation.“
But for Arc of Riverside Board Member, Ron Domme, “The National Wall of Respect” is much more personal. He says as the parent of a daughter with developmental disabilities, the mosaic is acknowledgement that she is a real person. “What this wall is really going to show is these people are just as important to the community as anybody.”
“The National Wall of Respect” can be viewed at any time. The ideal times are after 4p.m. on weekdays or anytime on weekends at The Arc of Riverside County’s main office at 8138 Mar Vista Court, Riverside.