The Arc of the Piedmont was founded in 1954 when a group of parents and friends of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities came together, recognizing that school and community inclusion would not happen without their advocacy and support. We are still just as diligent today to ensure access to the full range of human and civil rights for all people with disabilities.
We continue to carry out the mission and vision of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
The Power of Parents
In 1954, a small group of parents and other concerned individuals came together to act as voices for change. At the time, little was known about intellectual and developmental disabilities or its causes. There were virtually no programs and activities in communities to assist in the development and care of children and adults with intellectual disabilities or to support families.
It was common at that time for doctors to tell parents that the best place for their child was in an institution. Emboldened by their collective desire to raise their children in the home and their stubborn refusal to accept that institutionalization was the only option, The Arc’s founders fought even harder.
Like every parent of any child, they wanted more for their children. They wanted their children to lead fulfilling lives out in the community and not be shuttered away in dark institutions. It was in that spirit that The Arc was born.
The Early Days
At the outset, the organization was committed to altering perceptions of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to educate parents and others regarding the potential of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Arc also worked to procure services for children and adults who were denied an education, the right to attend daycares and preschools, and the right to work.
Growing with the Times
The Arc has grown and adapted to the changes that people with disabilities face across their lifespan. Through the decades and several name changes, The Arc has advocated for the passage of state and federal legislation on behalf of people with disabilities, and established a broad network of state and local chapters that range from small voluntary groups to large, professional organizations.
Our rich history leading to successful outcomes would not be possible without the significant number of dedicated parents, family members, volunteers, staff, and other advocates from all over the nation who share our vision.