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People First Campaign: A Day of Action

Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 20, 2009 the Arc of Massachusetts and a number of other statewide disability advocacy groups will participate in a virtual protest against further budget cuts to human services for our most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth. More than ten thousand individuals with disabilities have already lost some or all essential services this budget year ($45 Million cut in the Department of Developmental Services in FY’2010). These cuts included employment, day programs, family supports, and transportation that are central to people’s lives. Many families are already struggling and in need of help. More cuts will push many families to the brink and could actually be life-threatening. If these cuts go through, it will mean the dismantling of the Safety Net for tens of thousands of people with disabilities statewide.

Why is it that when times are tough, services for people with disabilities shoulder a disproportionate burden of budget cuts? Advocates fight so hard for vital services, yet these services can be taken away in the blink of an eye. The Governor and legislature must know about the potential dangers of making any further cuts to human services. What does it say about our society when our most vulnerable citizens are left without vital services?

If you work in the human services field, if you know someone with a developmental disability (such as the Bissell boys), or if you simply care about our most vulnerable citizens, here are a few things you can do to help:

* Use this Action Center to send an email to the Governor and EOHHS Secretary Judy Ann Bigby.
* Make phone calls to the Governor (617-725-4005), your senator and your representative (you can find who they are and get contact info at the Action Center).
* Use this link to sign our Twitter petition and send a tweet to the Governor (@MassGovernor):
* Share your concerns on the Governor’s Facebook Fan Page
* Contact your local newspaper and tell them that you are participating in the People First Campaign.

Press release template (Word Format)
More information and talking points (PDF Format)

Tell whoever you talk to that you are concerned about the harm already inflicted on services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and that further erosion of the Safety Net cannot be withstood. Thanks.


Public Option Please

My letter to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry:

Dear Senator Kerry,

I am an RN and mother of three sons who all have disabilities. I am also an advocate for children with complex health care needs and I network with parents of children from all over the US. Most of these children have tracheostomies, g-tubes and many are ventilator dependent and require 24/7 care.

I am so thankful to live in Massachusetts where we have easy access to quality health care and medicaid waivers for children with disabilities and complex medical needs. But many people in other states do not get the help they need in order to care for their children at home. In some states, children are put on a waiting list for many years in order to get the help they need right now. It is not fair that a child is denied assistance, just because they happen to live on the other side of a state line.

This is just one of many reasons why I support a public option and why I feel that this part of the bill must be included in order to have ‘real’ health care reform.

Thank you for all you do.

Cynthia Bissell
Grafton, Massachusetts


Dog Sled

We’ve been trying to find a sled that will work for Eric in the wintertime. When he was little, there were lots of options, but now that he has grown, we haven’t been able to come up with anything. He needs a firm backrest and his feet need to be off the snow. I know of others who have used a dog sled, so I’ve been watching eBay for a good deal. These dog sleds are not cheap.

We were driving around one Sunday and saw a dog sled at the side of the road with a “FREE” sign on it. Great price, so we grabbed it! It was a rusty old thing made of steel with a wooden seat that was rotting. I took the sled apart, sanded it down and primed and painted it. The seat had to be replace with new wood. Here is a before and after photo.

Before and After
Before and After

The good news is that it came out nice; the bad news is that I don’t think this will work for Eric. This sled is made of steel and is very heavy. I can’t imagine being able to push this heavy thing with Eric in it (add 120 lbs), and I have no intention of getting dogs to pull it! I know nothing about dog sleds and don’t know why this particular sled is so heavy. Maybe it was made to slide on ice? Most of the sleds I’ve seen online are made of wood and look much easier to push.

I think I’ll have to keep hunting for a light-weight sled or some other solution. Will give this one a try when the snow flies, but I have a feeling this will just be a conversation piece and maybe a Christmas decoration in December.

Anyone need a big, heavy, newly refinished dog sled;-)