How the Wall of Respect Became a Reality


In 2007, The Arc of Riverside County board member William Edwards, a criminal defense attorney, was appointed to the President’s Committee for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. This prestigious committee has been helping to set policy for Federal agencies and advising Presidents on intellectual disability issues since the Kennedy administration. In the 2008 annual report to the President, they said this about why the progress toward inclusion is not happening fast enough:

“All people, including those with intellectual disabilities, are endowed by their Creator with the same inherent value… but no amount of legislation that solely addresses government policy will ever be sufficient to create a truly inclusive society as long as the hearts and minds of the citizens of this country continue to harbor misinformed ideas and attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities.

“These attitudes are perpetuated through stereotypes, poorly formed mass media portrayals and depictions, and perhaps most significantly, the lack of personal experiences with people with intellectual disabilities. Truly, the most significant barriers to acceptance and inclusion rest in the minds of individuals who do not recognize the inherent value of people with intellectual disabilities”

Inspired by this report, soon after it was published, our local chapter of The Arc launched an initiative to do our part to hasten the progress. “The Value of One” is our affirmation that all people, with and without disabilities, have inherent value. This campaign has many initiatives including an effort to join forces with other organizations to end the “R” word and replace it with another “R” word, Respect.

Another initiative proposed was to use a wall on our property to make a visual statement to illustrate our above beliefs. Thus the concept of The Wall of Respect was born. Two years ago, we began looking for the right artist to create a large mural to make this visual statement that could be seen by those visiting our location and anyone else interested in our campaign. We were fortunate to find Erin Maxell and her parents. They are all accomplished mosaic artists.

Today, March 16, 2013, we are beginning this project at the site where it will be created over the next five months. If you wish to stay in touch with the progress of this mural, please give us your contact information and we will refer you to the social media sites that will document the progress and inform you of additional times when you can visit the site and perhaps even participate in the creation of the mosaic mural through a workshop led by artists, Erin and Kathy Maxwell. These sites will also inform you of other “Value of One” initiatives.

This Wall of Respect will be a permanent and important part of our city and contribute to its growing reputation as a city of art and innovation. To offset the cost of this artistic rendering, we will offer space on or at the wall for the public to purchase tiles with their name on them. By doing this, you not only help fund this project but will memorialize your commitment to a wonderful cause.

On behalf of The Arc of Riverside County, we thank you for your interest in this project.

Tim’s Place: Where breakfast, lunch and HUGS are served!

Tim Harris owns his own restaurant — where hugs are on the menu! The sign says, “Tim’s Place: Breakfast, lunch and hugs!”

Tim has Down Syndrome — and is, we are told, the only restaurant owner with Down Syndrome.

Greetings guests at the door with a hug — you can see the joy he gets from serving people food — and from giving a little bit of love!

As Tim says, “We serve breakfast lunch and hugs: hugs are the best part!”

The Albuquerque restaurant calls itself “the world’s friendliest restaurant!”

Owning a restaurant has been a lifetime dream: “When he was 14 years old, he said he wanted to own a restaurant.”

Tim sums up his philosophy of being a restauranteur — and life: “Food is food. I give them a hug and then they all feel better!”

The 2012 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKids of the Year

Published on Jan 15, 2013

The 2012 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKids of the Year, brothers Conner and Cayden Long, were honored at a star-studded event in New York City last night. The Long brothers were part of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year ceremony that recognized Miami Heat star LeBron James. Celebrities such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski were also in attendance, and everyone there was impressed by Conner’s and Cayden’s accomplishments.

Cayden, suffers from cerebral palsy, but Conner doesn’t let that stop him from playing sports with his brother. The two compete in triathlons together, with Conner towing Cayden behind in a raft during the swimming leg, towing him behind his bike during the cycling portion, and pushing him during the run. Triathlons have been a great way for the brothers to come together and have made them an inspiration to everyone that hears their story.

After hearing their story at the Sportsman ceremony, Coach K said that Conner and Cayden have scholarships to Duke waiting for them when they get older, and LeBron said that the brothers should get ready for the private plane that is going to take them from their home in Tennessee to Miami to “meet the guys.” Even Jay-Z and Beyoncé couldn’t wait to shake hands with Conner and Cayden.

http://www.sikids.com/longs-sportsman

The Value of One acknowledges the 20th Anniversary of the ADA with a Story about Bob Perske

Bob Perske

What kind of person wants the world to know about an obscure execution of a person with an intellectual disability 70 years ago?

What can you say about someone who travels across the country to place a gravestone on a tiny plot outside the prison where this unfortunate person is buried?

On the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it would be impossible to illustrate the spirit of this act and The Value of One in any more meaningful way than to tell you (and link you to) the story of the actions of Bob Perske on behalf of Joe Arridy.

He sent this e-mail to some of us who follow his advocacy efforts. This is what it said:

Dear Colleague:

Denver Attorney David A. Martinez is filing a petition asking Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. to issue a posthumous pardon to Joe Arridy who was wrongfully executed on January 6, 1939. This cause will be helped if a number of “independent persons” chose to write letters that will support the efforts of Attorney Martinez. Here is the plan:

I have volunteered to receive your letters. (PLEASE SEND YOUR HARD COPY VIA U.S. MAIL TO PERSKE, 159 HOLLOW TREE RIDGE ROAD, DARIEN, CT 06820).
I will assemble the letters and write a cover index that will list all names alphabetically.
The packet will be submitted with the Attorneys petition and documentation.
THE DEADLINE FOR RECEIVING THE LETTERS WILL BE LABOR DAY.

Rob Warden, Executive Director, The Center on Wrongful Convictions, Northwestern University School of Law has written an excellent overview in www.friendsofjoearridy.com.

Bob Perske

Anyone wishing to read more about this and respond to his request is welcome to visit the website above.

Here is the letter we wrote:

The Honorable Bill Ritter, Jr.

Governor, State of Colorado

Dear Governor Ritter:

More than a decade ago I read the story of Joe Arridy in the book Deadly Innocence by Bob Perske. I knew the ending and that made it an important but difficult read. It’s still on my shelf and I pulled it down when I received an email from Bob today. He requested a letter from “colleagues.” I felt privileged to be called one, and honored that he asked me to support Joe Arridy.

I didn’t need to re-read Joe’s story. The emotional parts are a permanent imprint. Things slip my mind these days but the image of Joe Arridy happily playing with his toy train on the floor of his death row cell never left. When you touch this area of advocacy — fighting for dignity, respect and justice for the most vulnerable among a highly vulnerable population — too often, you find no tears left. I still had a few.

It turns out I didn’t know the ending of Joe’s story because it hadn’t yet been written. Thanks to Bob and other “Friends of Joe,” there is an opportunity for a posthumous pardon for Joe Arridy. I am in obvious support of this and though some wrongs are virtually impossible to right, this is one that will reverberate throughout the field of intellectual disabilities and help demonstrate that all people, regardless of the circumstances that nurture and nature have dealt them in life, have value.

Governor Ritter, you have the power to help write the final chapter in Joe Arridy’s life by granting this pardon. We hope this highly symbolic and compassionate act is forthcoming in the near future.

It’s never too late to right a wrong.

My thoughts and prayers are with you as you contemplate this decision.

Most Sincerely,

Jim Stream, Executive Director

The Arc of Riverside County

On the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of Riverside Makes another Commitment to Diversity by Opening a Universal Playground in Fairmont Park

Universal Playground

City of Riverside’s Continuing Commitment to Diversity

The Arc of Riverside County chooses to acknowledge this important anniversary of the ADA by telling our readers about the new Universal Playground at Fairmont Park in Riverside. Several weeks ago, we were present with city officials and members of the city’s Commission on Disabilities for the grand opening of this special place where children with and without disabilities can play together.

The Arc of Riverside County Take Part in the Opening Ceremony

At the grand opening on June 21, Mayor Ron Loveridge and Ward 1 Councilman Mike Gardner spoke of the work and the mission of The Arc of Riverside County and the importance of this playground. Even though our agency had only a small part in making this a reality, it was an affirmation of our core values and in step with our The Value of One project on dignity and respect for people with intellectual disabilities. Justin Newman, a person who attends one of our programs, led the Pledge of Allegiance and had the honor of cutting the ribbon to officially open the park.

An Important Area Nonprofit Committed to Teaching Inclusion through Play

At the opening ceremony, Brad Thornton, development director for Shane’s Inspiration, the nonprofit company that facilitates the construction of these playgrounds, spoke of their inclusive mission and their desire to bring this project to elementary schools in Riverside as the logical next step.

The educational program created by CEO and Co-Founder Tiffany Harris and program director, Marnie Norris, includes a field trip to the playground and a pre- and post-classroom session. The students are briefed on what to expect before students with and without disabilities travel by bus to the park for playtime together. Upon returning to school, they talk about the experience.

The Riverside Parks Department and the Commission on Disabilities are committed to helping schools implement this educational program. With two members of The Arc on the Commission on Disabilities, our agency may play a key part in making this happen.

Several weeks after this opening, The Arc staff met with Shane’s Inspiration staff and ideas were discussed for taking the important next step to make this happen in our city. Testimonials from schools where this program have been conducted are extremely positive. Visit www.shanesinspiration.org for more information and for how this program can be done in any community.

Read the Press Enterprise article.

History of the ADA

The ADA was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in July of 1990. For the first time it prohibited discrimination based on disability. “Over the past two decades, The ADA has created revolutionary improvements in the lives of Americans with disabilities,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a speech Friday commemorating the bill’s signing. Many have noted that people with intellectual disabilities have the least from this landmark legislation. One example is that while physical barriers in courtrooms around the country have been removed, accommodations for people with intellectual disabilities who encounter the criminal justice system often receive unequal justice due to the legal system’s ignorance and/or indifference to their plight. It is our hope that these barriers will begin to disappear in the coming decade.

$1,000 Award to the Winning Mural Design for “The Value of One” Wall

The Arc of Riverside County, California, a nonprofit charitable organization, is searching for artistic renderings/ideas for a mural on a smooth brick wall bordering our main office that will illustrate the concept of “The Value of One.”

“The Value of One” is our affirmation that all people, with and without disabilities, have inherent value. Currently, people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities are not always provided the level of dignity and respect they rightfully deserve as they take their place in our communities. Our goal is to make this wall a visual statement illustrating our belief in the value of everyone and that it will be seen by those coming to our location and by those interested in our campaign for greater dignity and respect of people with disabilities.

A prize of $1,000 will be awarded to the person with the winning design. We have no preconceived ideas for this design, except that we want the logo to be incorporated into the mural in some manner, although it does not need to be a literal representation. The wall is located at 8138 Mar Vista Court, Riverside, CA, 92504 and is approximately 100 feet long and between 10 and 12 feet high.

Learn More

‘Feild’ of Dreams

Will this tenacious teen the next governor of California? Maybe after high school.

Friend of The Arc of Riverside County and high school student with a disability, R.J. Feild (pronounced ‘field’) is an inspiration. Between fighting for new laws in California’s capitol and speaking to local groups about disability issues, where does he find time to be a teenager? Somehow, he does, and that’s why R.J. is one of The Arc’s heroes.

Here he is on the national nightly news with Katie Couric:

Part 1

Part 2