Seattle’s swaths of downtown real estate are looked after by Debbie, who manages the janitorial teams responsible for the upkeep of government institutions housed in historic office buildings and modern skyscrapers.
Happy World Reading Day! While every day should be a reading day, today we get to celebrate the amazing invention of the story. Books are such an incredible tool when it comes to children’s success, development, and creativity. Books have enabled children all around the world to engage one another in a common language. They teach us how to be good people. Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree teaches the importance of sharing and appreciating your loved ones (and has been translated into more than 30 languages). Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax shows us the value of taking care of the world around you. Crockett Johnsons’ Harold and the Purple Crayon is a perfect illustration of just how far your imagination can take you.
Spring is around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to be outside and get some sunshine on our faces. If you’re looking for some accessible activities to get involved in during the upcoming months, check out some of the resources below!
1) Friendship Adventures
Based out of Kirkland, Friendship Adventures focuses on recreation, education and leisure activities for people with developmental disabilities. From bingo to dances, they’re all about building community.
2) Outdoors for All Foundation
From kayaking to snowboarding, Outdoors for All’s mission is to enrich the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities through outdoor education. Offering a diverse selection, see if there’s one for you!
3) Wilderness Inquiry
Providing integrated trips with people of all abilities, Wilderness Inquiry wants to get as many people out enjoying nature as possible. They also provide inclusive equipment meant to meet a range of needs.
4) Seattle Adaptive Sports
Seattle Adaptive Sports facilitates athletic and recreational activities for youths and adults with physical disabilities, and offers a mélange of options. Basketball, tennis and soccer are all some of the classic sports leagues you can join.
5) Aquatic Therapy Services
A combination of mental relaxation and physical well-being can result from spending time in the water, especially if it’s in the form of aquatic therapy. If you’re located in the Seattle area, Seattle Children's Hospital has an accessible pool which is always heated to 93 degrees. If you happen to be located near Sammamish, Community Integration Services offer several programs for both children and adults.
Let us know of any other organizations, groups or services you enjoy participating with, we want to spread the word!
On February 7th, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump. This process – from President Trump announcing DeVos as a candidate to her confirmation – has been one of the most contested cabinet positions in modern history. In an unprecedented vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education despite widespread concerns about her comments on special education.
With a full agenda of developments and exciting news, there’s a lot to be excited about at Northwest Center in this upcoming year. One thing we’re especially pleased to share with you all is the launch of our advocacy branch; a new sector of Northwest Center aiming to connect our clients with even more resources both locally and nationally, while also supplying useful, nonpartisan information to help families and individuals make the best choices for themselves.
This morning, Betsy DeVos was nominated as Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump. This nomination will move to Congress for approval in the coming weeks. While DeVos was met with harsh criticism in recent weeks from Democrats and special needs advocates, “deep opposition from special education advocates was not enough to prevent President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education from moving forward.” (Disability Scoop, January 31, 2017).
Gaining much attention is DeVos’s public position on Individuals with Disabilities Act and her belief that it should be run state-by-state, moving from the current national standardization. Following is a history of IDEA, what the law actually entails, and what it means to people with disabilities.
In 1967, almost 200,000 individuals with significant disabilities were living in state institutions. Before the passing of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 1975, people with disabilities were likely to have inequitable opportunities in life. State institutions provided only minimal clothing, food, and shelter; furthermore, people with disabilities were merely accommodated rather than assessed and educated.
Help to support local non-profits this winter by donating new or gently worn sweaters, coats and cold-weather gear to KCTS 9’s 20th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. January 13 - February 12, 2017. Donated items will benefit Northwest Center, Wellspring Family Services, and Queen Anne Helpline.
Look for the Sweater Drive collection bins at all PCC Natural Markets locations, Sound Credit Union’s location in Western Washington; or drop your items off at KCTS 9's Seattle Center studio.
Uber is also making it easy to donate to the sweater drive with the touch of a button. On Saturday, February 11, Uber users can log-in and request ‘Donate’ at the bottom of the screen. A driver will pick up the donated clothing and deliver it directly to a local donation center – for free!
“All of us, at some time or other, need help,” said Fred Rogers. “Whether we’re giving or receiving a sweater, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.”
Be sure to follow @nwcenter and @KCTS9 on Facebook and Twitter for updates!
Last year’s drive collected hundreds of sweaters for individuals in Western Washington.
Learn more at: www.kcts9.org
Disney films have become a staple of our childhoods, acting as cultural symbols both adults and children can identify with and use to relate to one another. Recently, Disney is using their international clout to embark on a noble mission of bringing disabilities into the limelight. Between Disney’s 2015 blockbuster ‘Inside Out’ and this year’s ‘Finding Dory,’ the topic of disability is becoming more accessible to a larger audience, including younger children; and when 12.5% of individuals in the US struggle with some type of disability, Disney’s move towards socially-conscious themes benefits advocacy groups like Northwest Center.
If there’s one rule to follow about how to treat people with disabilities it’s this: simply treat them the way you’d treat anyone else. At Northwest Center Kids, where children with and without disabilities share the same classrooms and playgrounds, kids naturally learn that we’re all more alike than we are different. Here are some great tips on sharing that same lesson with your kids:
With winter quickly approaching, we understand that families need to find activities to fill their children's time. Crafts can be a great way to engage with children in a manner they find entertaining while also offering the opportunity for teachable moments. Below is a list of five activities that make indoor time seem like the most exciting option!
On Tuesday, October 11th, local business leaders and members of the community filled the 4th floor of the Westin Downtown – Seattle to celebrate and invest in our Early Learning services for children with and without disabilities.
It sounds so simple. It was the late 1960s, and four Northwest Center founders—Cecile Lindquist, Janet Taggart, Evelyn Chapman, and the late Katie Dolan—were having a casual conversation with Ralph Munro (then an assistant to Governor Dan Evans, who would go on to become Secretary of the State of Washington). Now that Northwest Center was up and running, the women wanted to do more. Munro had a suggestion.
“He said, ‘Why don’t you write a mandatory law that children with disabilities will be served by public schools?’” Lindquist remembers. “‘We thought, ‘Well, there's an idea for you.’”
Of course, the actual path to that law wasn’t easy, but Northwest Center’s founders were used to hard work. The 80-plus-member Mother’s Guild raised money and awareness with everything from bake sales and bazaars to traveling lectures. Sherry McNary and Mary Bass, who were children at the time, remember the long hours their parents, the late Myrtle and Bob McNary and Nadean and the late Robert Bass, would put in. McNary recalls with amusement how she and her siblings “were always being dragged down there for work parties on nights and weekends. The families did everything.”
“But, boy, that was a good time. Just being with everyone,” Bass says.
Swell Cooks and Super Organizers
But the founders knew that parents who “did everything” was not a long-term solution for the kids with disabilities Northwest Center served nor for the thousands statewide who still had nowhere to go. Somehow, they had to influence the people who made the laws governing education. A first step was a luncheon for state legislators that the Mother’s Guild cohosted with the Association for Retarded Citizens (now The Arc). Dolan, a well-known local radio and TV personality, invited her friend Fred Dore, who was Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. He was the only lawmaker to show.
Interviewed by Susan Schwartzenberg for the book Becoming Citizens: Family Life and the Politics of Disability (University of Washington Press, 2005), Dolan remembered: “He said to me, ‘Katie, if you want to do this right—you gals are swell cooks and you’re a super organizer…here’s what you should do. It should last one hour, you have every parent call their legislator, and you tell them you’re going to have home-cooked food.”
The following year, Northwest Center followed that advice. Legislators were seated with constituents, there was a clear agenda to cover, and the Legislator’s Luncheons were an instant, long-lasting hit. By the 1980s, remembers board member Parul Houlahan, “We would get phone calls from all the legislators of King County, the city and the state: ‘I don’t want to miss the Legislator’s Luncheon! When is it?’ Even the bureaucrats would join us.”
They had the ear of the lawmakers; now they needed the law. “Katie Dolan was full of resources,” Chapman says. “She said, ‘Why don’t we go to the University of Washington Law School and see if there are any students to help us out?” Soon, students George Breck and William Dussault were on board, researching current legislation involving people with disabilities.
In Becoming Citizens, Dolan describes the rest of the group as a law-writing dream team:
Evelyn was brilliant; she had experience as a legal secretary and as a budget analyst and could read any law. She was also fearless and would go behind the scenes and talk to anybody. Janet…knew how to connect with people. She was also a journalist. She wrote stories about our progress and fed them to the press. They were delighted; they didn’t have to do any work, and our story got published verbatim. We had Cecile…she had worked with the “establishment.” She knew lobbyists. She was a teacher and an administrator and she was working with the Experimental Education Unit at the University of Washington. We pushed her out front because she had been active politically. I was the dramatist. I was an actress. I had a TV show. I knew how to handle the PR. I knew how to organize events and I had lots of connections.
A Constitutional Right
When the team met with regional legislators and union leaders, they were told it would take years and upwards of $50,000 to pass a law. But then, Chapman says, “We learned to read the Washington State Constitution.” There in the Section 1 Preamble of Article IX was a crucial statement: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”
The newly christened Education for All Team now had their political ammo. They wrote 29 versions of the Education for All Act before they were satisfied. The final law not only mandated that Washington public schools educate all children, but also that schools failing to comply would lose important funding.
The team had a powerful ally in Lindquist’s cousin Dan Evans, who happened to be Governor of Washington. “Cecile and Katie did a good job educating me about developmentally disabled children who shouldn’t be in a state institution or who were prevented from going to school,” Evans remembers. He advised the team to seek out legislators who had children or relatives with developmental disabilities, because the law “would require real change in attitudes.”
‘Nothing slowed them down’
“I told all of them the same thing,” he says: “‘You have to contact and convince legislators—and there are 148 of them.’ Most organizations would say, ‘Oh, that’s impossible.’ Not Cecile and Katie. Nothing slowed them down.”
They also had the Mother’s Guild behind them. “We just had to call one or two mothers, and they would immediately make hundreds of calls to Olympia,” Taggart says. “Legislators would sometimes beg us, ‘Please, turn them off!’” she laughs.
When the bill finally went up for voting in the House of Representatives, “It got stuck in the rules committee,” Lindquist remembers. “One of the legislators did not want there to be sanctions.”
Governor Evans told the team, “‘We’re getting toward the end of the session, and there are 99 members. Contact them all if you can,’” he says. “Then I thought to myself, ‘Well, that’s an impossible task.’ And the next day, they came back and said, ‘Well, we contacted everybody.’”
“And then it went on the floor and it passed,” says Lindquist.
“I was frankly amazed that they could get a bill of that complexity and cost out of the legislature as well and as rapidly as they did,” Evans says.
Gov. Evans signed House Bill (HB) 90, “Education for All,” into law in 1971, flanked by the team who had written and lobbied it into existence. The bill that was supposed to take untold years and $50,000 to get through the legislature had taken just one year and $500.
‘How come nobody ever told me?’
In a very real way, HB 90 led to nationwide change for people with disabilities. First, the team was invited to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senator Warren G. Magnuson.
“We each had our speech, explaining what happened in Washington state, how important it was the whole nation do this,” Lindquist says. “When we finished, there was dead silence in the room.”
Then, Taggart says, the senator suddenly thundered: “Do you mean to tell me there are little boys and girls who can’t go to school?”
“He looked at one of his aides and said, ‘How come nobody ever told me this?’” Lindquist says. “‘We will run a bill this year to change this nationally!’ We were shocked. And the aide is just like, ‘Oh, my God!’ The senator said, ‘There’s no debate. It’s wrong. We will change it.’ And he was a man of his word.”
Members of the team paid their own way to D.C. to help legislators draft the national law inspired by, and named for, their own. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act passed in 1975.
Citizens Who Cared
Big things were also happening at home. In 1967, Northwest Center was approached by William Ellison, who had just opened a thrift store in Renton, WA called Value Village. He proposed a partnership where Northwest Center would collect donated clothing that Value Village would purchase to sell in the store.
Former Northwest Center CEO Jim McClurg recalls, “The finance committee was a bit suspicious—what he was offering sounded too good to be true. But this group of volunteers wasn’t stupid. They invited Bill to make a presentation to the full board, who liked the way it sounded. It was probably one of the most important things we ever decided.”
Today, the partnership is still going strong: Northwest Center collects donations with The Big Blue Truck™ and The Big Blue Bin™ across the state to help fund Early Education and Employment Services.
In 1972, Dolan and Taggart launched family advocacy project The Troubleshooters. They understood the mass of paperwork and government entities families of kids with disabilities had to navigate, so they hosted “benefit parties” to help families fill out forms and published a newsletter with an advice column. Their work was so impressive that Professor Gunnar Dybwad, the leading disability rights advocate at the time, encouraged them to apply for a small scholarship from his wife’s foundation and use it to study disability and family life in Europe. Dolan and Taggart spent time living with families in England, Ireland, Scotland, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, and Sweden.
“Upon our return,” Dolan remembered in 2005, “we wrote and successfully lobbied state legislation, which set up home aid for children with developmental disabilities.”
The Troubleshooters inspired legislation that established Protection and Advocacy agencies in every state. In 1987, The Troubleshooters became the Washington Protection and Advocacy System, an independent entity. Today, it’s known as Disability Rights Washington (DRW).
And of course, Northwest Center programs for children and adults continued to break new ground. Parents worked with the Seattle Parks Department to develop the Specialized Training Program, a clinical approach where students from age 5 to 20 learned appropriate classroom and work behaviors. An on-site workshop known as Special Industries provided training and employment for older students, whose woodwork was sold at craft shows and bazaars. Soon the shop landed the first of many business contracts, making soffits for a local home builder.
By 1975, Northwest Center education and job programs were serving more than 125 people with developmental disabilities, from infants to adults in their 40s.
In just 10 years, the families of Northwest Center accomplished a staggering amount with very little. That’s something that Evans says is an important lesson today. “They demonstrated what citizens who were dedicated to a proposal could really do,” he says. “It didn’t take huge amounts of money. It didn’t take paid lobbyists. It took citizens who cared.”
Innovative companies across the country are embracing a new form of competitive advantage in the marketplace – the power of diversity and inclusion to improve business results. Disability advocates have implored businesses for decades to hire people with disabilities simply because it is the right thing to do, as if inclusion is a reluctant compromise made in the admirable spirit of giving back to the community.
But our experience at Northwest Center suggests that we have been looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. What we have found is that the harder we work to build, nurture, and leverage a Neurodiverse workforce, the more successful our businesses are. Coincidence? We don’t think so.
For one thing, we find the same correlation between inclusion and business performance in each of our businesses.
We're passionate about equal rights and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Please share and subscribe!