In the mid-20th century, parents had few choices for their children with intellectual or developmental disabilities. A group of South Shore parents felt that their options were completely unacceptable, so in May 1951 they founded The Arc of the South Shore. Their goal was to promote the welfare of exceptional children and their parents by providing educational programs, home training, recreational facilities, and specialized teacher training. They also wanted to encourage research and help create a better understanding among the general public of their children's unique circumstances and needs.
In 1967, the town of Weymouth transferred the deed of a parcel of land on Main Street to a nonprofit named the Jaycees Memorial School, Inc. for the purpose of building a school for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The memorial school opened in 1970 and served over 400 children a year. The school eventually became our First Early Intervention program.
Throughout its history, The Arc has been instrumental in supporting the rights of individuals with disabilities. In 1975, the agency supported a series of lawsuits that resulted in a landmark court order declaring that patients in mental hospitals have a fundamental right to refuse treatment with mind-altering drugs. This order created a widespread movement for deinstitutionalization, and with funding from the Commonwealth, The Arc expanded and opened its first group home and day services for adults seeking care.
By the end of the 1980s, The Arc became a multi-service agency. Since then, the agency has strategically developed opportunities that foster independence, community inclusion, and advocacy. It has also continuously expanded its programs and facilities, including the creation of a new Autism Resource Center in 2016 to fill a void in the care available to South Shore families and the completion of a nearly one million dollar renovation of its adult day center in North Weymouth in 2019.
In addition to its comprehensive programming, The Arc is affiliated with 700 state and local grassroots Arc chapters nationwide. Working collaboratively, this collective has expanded community-based services and championed policy changes that have advanced the rights of individuals with disabilities in education, employment, housing, and health care.
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