Arc Thrift Stores Sponsors First Annual "Families in Action" Weekend

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“Families in Action” offered the parents of young children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) an opportunity to connect with the Association for Community Living support services, while their children participated in a host of activities at the Rockies YMCA. The event also allowed for the discussion of what is going well in the community, as well as what organizations like Arc Thrift Stores and ACL can do to help.

June welcomed the first annual “Families in Action” event, sponsored by Arc Thrift Stores and hosted by The Arc of Colorado, the Association for Community Living (ACL), the Arc of Larimer County and the Arc of Weld County. The weekend retreat connected parents of young children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) with support services.

The ACL developed the initiative to educate families on advocacy services while learning how additional needs can be met. “ACL’s goal is to lessen these families struggles, while increasing awareness of the mission which provides advocacy for individuals in the I/DD community,” Lloyd Lewis, President/CEO, Arc Thrift Stores.

According to Ailsa Wonnacott, ACL’s Executive Director, “The weekend agenda included topics such as: “what is going well in the lives of the participating families; what are the struggles and challenges they face on a daily basis; what parents and caretakers have learned about advocacy; what needs to change in their community; and, what can Arc and ACL chapters do to support the families’ agenda for change.” Enthusiastic Arc/ACL volunteers and staff members worked one-on-one with the children teaching them about the Colorado outdoors and wildlife by facilitating them to participate in the YMCA’s activity program. Meanwhile, parents sat down with senior members of the ACL to discuss what it is like to be a parent advocate for individuals with I/DD. A perk of the event was that parents experienced a worry-free weekend while volunteers looked after their children. For some parents, it was the first time they had left their child in the care of another person.

With over 180 people in attendance, “Families in Action” took place in Estes Park at the YMCA of the Rockies. And, thanks to the sponsorship provided by Arc Thrift Stores, every family was able to attend free of charge.

At the end of the weekend, during a closing discussion with parents and advocates, one veteran advocate summed up the weekend’s overall conversation perfectly: “You must bloom where you were planted. It may not be the party we planned, but let’s take the opportunity to dance.”

About Arc Thrift Stores:
Arc Thrift Stores operates 22 thrift stores and 11 “donation stations” throughout Colorado. Arc Thrift Stores provides funding to arc Chapters, which in turn provide advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Arc is one of the largest employers of individuals with I/DD in the state of Colorado.

About the Association for Community Living:
The ACL is the Arc Chapter serving Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Since 1962, ACL has been providing resources, training, support and individual and systems change advocacy for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, friends and communities.

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Lori Jones
Avocet Communications
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