Opinion & Editorial

The Arc: Advocating for basic human rights in Lane

For more than 70 years, The Arc Lane County has cast a light on issues facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and advocating for their basic human rights.

Sadly, people with disabilities have long been excluded. They have been confined to institutions, banned from attending schools, and segregated at work. They have been refused opportunities to reach their potential and stripped of making choices. 

Even more recently, people with disabilities were denied life-saving ventilators during the COVID pandemic.

This is why I am proud to work for The Arc Lane County, an agency that advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc’s vision is for people to have the support they need to live full and meaningful lives in the community. 

As the director of marketing and communications, I get to share all the great work The Arc is doing with the greater community. It is hard work that is very meaningful to me, as I am a proud parent of a young adult who experiences a disability. 

When my son was first diagnosed with autism at the age of two, I distinctly remember wanting to escape to a deserted island so I could protect him. 

Since that time, I have adjusted my sails. 

Instead of fleeing, I am focused on helping make the world a better place for my son. With education, advocacy, and positivity, we can make changes in our community that will have ripple effects elsewhere.

Take the Arc Park, for example. The Arc Lane County is spearheading a capital campaign to build an accessible and welcoming play space where children of all abilities can play. 

When my son was little, the simple joy of visiting a local playground was not something we could do because my son would often dart away, and he didn’t understand the danger of a flowing river or a busy street with moving cars. 

The Arc listened to the needs of parents and children in the community, and developed a vision for a state-of-the-art play space that will allow children with disabilities to be fully included rather than watching from the outskirts. 

The park is under construction now in Springfield, and when it is complete, it will become a destination play space for families across Oregon to enjoy. It will be another beautiful gem for our Springfield community to taut.

In addition to the park, The Arc provides a variety of support and services to people of all ages. From helping little ones learn their ABCs in an inclusive preschool to securing jobs for adults with disabilities in the community, The Arc Lane County is dedicated to helping people reach their full potential.

The Arc Lane County is also organizing a disability awareness campaign called Strength in Neurodiversity. The goal of this campaign is to dispel myths related to disability and celebrate neurodiversity as one of the many different types of diversity that makes our community wonderful.

You, too, can help make the world a kinder place for people with disabilities. 

The Arc Lane County needs donations to build the next phase of the park, so children are not left sitting on the sidelines watching others play. The Arc also welcomes volunteers to help with family events. To learn more, visit arclane.org, or search for The Arc Lane County or the Arc Park Springfield on Facebook.

Laura Dahill is the director of marketing and communications for The Arc Lane County. She was the guest speaker at The Chronicle monthly networking event, Roast, Toast, & Boast, which features women in leadership and nonprofits. The next RTB will be held on Monday, Sept. 11 from 8:30-11 a.m. at Pegasus Playhouse in Springfield. All are welcome to join. 



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