Focus Your Holiday Season
From Arkansas Support Network CEO Keith Vire
“Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you reach your destiny.” Carl Schurz
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.,…and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Robert F. Kennedy
As we approach the end of another year and anticipate the changes that will come in the next, I want to thank each of you for doing your part to keep the ideal of equality and justice for individuals with disabilities alive. I also want to remind you that this concept is still an ideal; that means it hasn’t been reached.
We still have people who are sentenced to live in institutions simply because of their cognitive abilities. We still have children with severe disabilities who are denied nursing care that they need to survive. We still have a high school aged teen who’s using the “fitted” wheelchair that he was issued by Medicaid when he was in the 3rd grade—a chair that is now woefully inadequate and will perhaps cause additional damage. We still have parents who are forced to choose an out-of-home placement because of the devastating financial reality of supporting a child with a severe disability.
We still have 3,000 people sitting on a list that hasn’t moved since 2010 who are waiting for life sustaining supports in the community. And my home state, the state of my birth, the state that I love, still has employees who are paid to support those families who believe that “some kids just need to be in institutions.” I know this is true because I heard it directly from a case worker for the state just last week. That’s a long way from the ideal.
We have a long way to go. We have to keep pushing. We have to take a stand for equality and justice. We also have to understand that it’s going to get worse before it gets better; the current conversations about managed care in our legislative task force on health care reform ensures that. The state’s budget crunch, while a real problem that all of our state’s citizens share, must not become just one more excuse to delay the ideal of equality and justice. When that argument comes up, and I assure you it will, just remember these two points: 1) It is NOT more expensive to support people with disabilities in their homes and communities than in institutions; 2) Equality and justice are not negotiable. Poor people and people who have disabilities didn’t cause this budget crunch, and they shouldn’t be singled out as the solution.
“A visionary is an impractical person whose thoughts are based on ideals in a world whose actions are based on deals.” Dr. Laurence J. Peter
Don’t accept the “easy” answers. Don’t let our state abandon our friends and neighbors who have disabilities. Let’s focus on ideals, not deals. At Arkansas Support Network we are committed to working with the state, our colleagues, and individuals with disabilities and their families to change the system, while continuing to provide the very best services and supports in Arkansas.
We need your help to do this, so please contribute today. Have a great holiday season! Thanks for your generosity in 2015 and please continue your support of our ideal—a world of equality and justice—in the coming year. We can’t do it without you.