Forum: Disabled persons deserve better
May 30, 2012 10:18PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:35AM
Supporters of institutional living are using scare tactics in a desperate attempt to sway public opinion against Gov. Quinn’s plan to close state institutions. They are talking about people losing their jobs, residents being turned away with nowhere to go and families being separated. Don’t be fooled.
My interest is for the residents of these institutions. The Arc of Illinois is standing by these families to make sure they have a meaningful and successful transition into community living. No one will be “evicted.”
We have been working with the Illinois Department of Human Services on a comprehensive transition plan that will ensure a person-centered approach. Each disabled person will receive an evaluation and be moved into a community setting that is personalized to empower them to live an independent, safe and happy life — whether it’s living alone or with a small group, 24-hour care or a more independent lifestyle.
The days of segregating people with disabilities are long gone and to suggest that they should remain institutionalized and not be given the opportunity to thrive in a community setting is insulting. We work with countless families, some of whose loved ones have been labeled with severe disabilities and who have moved from an institution to a community home and flourished. People with disabilities want and deserve the same opportunities we all do. It’s time to stop selling them short and disregarding their potential. It’s time to get real about the amazing opportunities and dreams that are attainable by living in a community.
The Arc of Illinois
World-class city or city in crisis?
The recent NATO Summit showed what can happen when there is resolve and will on the part of Chicago’s leaders to accomplish a mission. The mission was to host the summit, showcase the city and protect foreign visitors, and to do so federal, state and local resources, financial and human, were mobilized.
City leaders need to show the same resolve to mobilize the necessary resources to protect their citizens on the South and West sides of Chicago from gang violence. Fear and terror permeates neighborhoods to such an extent that daily life is affected at its most basic level. Should I sit on my porch? Should I allow my kids to play outside? Should I walk to the corner store?
Countless unsolved murders and constant drug activity have been going on far too long. Our citizens deserve the same protection as foreign visitors, and it can be achieved for a fraction of the cost of protecting the NATO visitors.
It can only be done, however, by city officials declaring an all-out war on the street gangs that are responsible for so much violence, including killings, and drug trafficking. The goal should be to put the gangs out of business. It cannot be a hit-or-miss or now-and-then proposition but rather a relentless, day-in day-out program to combat gang activity.
Only when our city leaders can proclaim that gangs have been dismantled, will residents feel secure and free to live their lives in peace and not fear. Until that happens, Chicago cannot proclaim itself a world-class city.
Ned L. McCray
Retired principal of Simeon High School