March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Tinton Falls and over 25 towns throughout Monmouth County have officially recognized March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera, during a ceremony on the evening of March 14th read a proclamation dedicating March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and was joined by The Arc of Monmouth Executive Director Mary Scott and residents and staff representing the various group homes in Tinton Falls.

Proclamation Reading -- left to right: Joann Tortoriel (TF Resident), Elizabeth Cooney (TF Resident), David Skudera (TF Resident), Joan Skudera (NJ DDD Human Rights Committee Member), Mayor Michael Skudera, Ralph Aviles (TF resident), Drew DeGanahl (Support Manager), Roselyne Maina (Residential Manager), Mary Scott (Arc Executive Director), Lauren Stefanakis (Support Staff).

“It is great to know that advocates like Mary Scott and The Arc of Monmouth are working hard to protect the rights of the disabled” said Mayor Michael Skudera.

The Mayor’s mother Joan Skudera is a member of the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities Human Rights Committee. The Mayor’s brother David Skudera lives in a group home in Tinton Falls and takes part in The Arc's Work Opportunity Center Program.

The Arc of Monmouth, headquartered in Tinton Falls, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and serves more than 1,400 individuals at 20 locations throughout Monmouth County. Over the last 60 years, The Arc and its network of more than 700 chapters across the country have made tremendous progress in promoting and protecting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  It is due greatly to the advocacy efforts of The Arc that President Ronald Reagan officially declared March to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987.

In this pivotal election year, The Arc of Monmouth is joining national efforts to raise awareness about disability related policy on the campaign trail. In 2008, only 46% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who were eligible to vote actually did so.  Together, chapters of The Arc nationwide are working on the “We’ve Got The Power!” campaign, which aims to improve voting rates of in the I/DD community for 2012 and educate candidates about the issues that matter most to the I/DD community.

“Individuals with disabilities have the right to vote”, said Executive Director Mary Scott.  “The goal of the campaign is to encourage them not only to vote, but also to speak out about the topics that are important to them.” 

The Arc of Monmouth’s annual Tinton Falls 5K Race and Walk will be held at Liberty Park II on Saturday, May 5.  To get involved, visit www.arcofmonmouth.org/walk, or call (732) 493-1919.

The Arc of Monmouth's website (www.arcofmonmouth.org) features various resources, as well as a directory of services offered for individuals with I/DD, including health care, education, employment, recreation and individual and family supports. 

Left to right: Ralph Aviles, Lt. Gerald Turning, Jr., Lauren Stefanakis.

Lt. Gerald Turning, Jr. writes a blog on the Patch about the experiences with his son Eric’s autism.

David Skudera and Mayor Michael Skudera