Northwest Center Celebrates a Half Century of Service and Revolution

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Governor Dan Evans and Founders of Northwest Center Celebrate at its Annual Golden Heart Luncheon

Governor Dan Evans signs House Bill 90, Educations for All, into law, flanked by the Northwest Center fournders who wrote and lobbied it into existence.

People with autism, Down syndrome or cerebral palsy are valuable not in spite of their differences, but because of them. Their unique way of experiencing the world evokes qualities in everyone around them that otherwise would be lost.

Northwest Center, a leading organization supporting people of all abilities, will host its annual Golden Hearts luncheon and present the William O. Ellison award to former Governor Dan Evans. The William O. Ellison award is for an individual or organization who donates their time and/or financial resources to bettering the Puget Sound community and especially to causes relating to developmental disabilities. Governor Evans was selected for this unique honor for his role in passing House Bill 90, the 1971 law Northwest Center’s founders worked to enact, which became the model for the Federal Education for All Act of 1975.

The 2015 Golden Hearts event is a special one because Northwest Center is also commemorating its 50 Year Anniversary. As part of a year-long celebration marking a half century of service, Northwest Center has launched an extensive “Join the Revolution” campaign geared at recognizing people for their abilities and shifting the definition of the R word to “Revolution.”

“At Northwest Center, we believe the only way society can reach its potential is for everyone to participate fully in classrooms, businesses and the community,” said Tom Everill, president of Northwest Center. “Inclusion is not a compromise. People with autism, Down syndrome or cerebral palsy are valuable not in spite of their differences, but because of them. Their unique way of experiencing the world evokes qualities in everyone around them that otherwise would be lost.”

In its 50 years of advocacy for people with disabilities, Northwest Center has continued to benefit from the stalwart support of its founders, parents who refused to accept that the only option to educate their children with disabilities was to institutionalize them. Founding parents of Northwest Center, will also attend the Golden Hearts Luncheon. In Northwest Center’s 50 Years of Stories, Founder Janet Taggart recounts how children like her daughter Naida were considered “uneducable” and housed in institutions. It was those institutions that first sparked Taggart’s activism for people with disabilities. “A local institution had weekend tours. For a price, you could look at all the ‘funny people.’ That was to me the absolute bottom. Hell.”

A half century later, Northwest Center has not only helped change the perception of people with disabilities at school and in the workplace but is looking ahead to the next 50 years. The organization has embarked on a number of new initiatives including large-scale employment partnerships with major companies, creating a model for inclusion that can be adopted by early learning and other organizations throughout the region, and continuing to expand Northwest Center early intervention therapy in areas of need.

Throughout 2015, Northwest Center will explore the struggles and triumphs that come when people with and without disabilities learn and work together through “50 years, 50 Stories Worth Sharing.” Read the stories online at and share the inspiration via social media.

Founded in 1965 by a group of parents determined to change the world, Northwest Center is a leader in advancing equal opportunities for people of all abilities. Northwest Center’s mission is to promote the growth, development and independence of people with developmental disabilities through programs of education, rehabilitation and work opportunity. Northwest Center’s award-winning Kids division provides early intervention, inclusive early childhood education, and after school programs. Northwest Center’s Employment division provides job training, placement, and support for hundreds of outstanding employees. Northwest Center sustains its work through a unique social enterprise model that combines earned income from its own inclusive businesses, donations collected by The Big Blue Truck ™, program revenue, and philanthropy. Northwest Center touches the lives of nearly 1,000 families annually. For more information and to Join the Revolution:

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Denise Small
Northwest Center
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