The Early Years...

Across the nation during the 1950’s, persons with  intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) were still being hidden away in both public and private institutions, or they were kept at home with little to no educational opportunities afforded them. But parents and concerned citizens were beginning to acknowledge that the application of newly developed special education teaching methodologies could result in measureable educational gains for even the most severely impaired children.  Add to this the growing sentiment to abolish segregation at all levels of society and parents were finally encouraged that their children could benefit from community-based educational and skill-development programs that would focus on societal inclusion, not exclusion.

And so in 1954, parents of children with significant developmental disabilities who had been raised in their home community were joined by other Grant County leaders to establish an organization whose purpose was to promote and provide for community-based educational opportunities.

The 1950's

The first program that opened was called Pleasant Day School. Donated space was provided in the original YMCA building on 3rd Street in Marion. 23 students, ages 6 to 26, were taught by unpaid volunteer teachers. The program quickly outgrew its location and was subsequently moved to donated space in the old Central Labor Temple at 318 E. Second Street. In recognition of the growing national advocacy movement on behalf of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, the organization became one of the first chapters of the National and Indiana Associations for Retarded Children. The Community Chest, now the United Way of Grant County was approached to provide funding to cover the costs of facilities and to begin paying staff.

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