ALBION – They have marched in parades, washed cars, presented at County Legislature meetings and made other efforts to reach out to the community.
The Self Advocate All Stars in Orleans County have been recognized for their efforts by the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. The western region of that association held a conference on Friday and honored the All Stars as the “Self Advocacy Group of the Year.”
“They have seen how active our group is,” said Jonathan Doherty, one of leaders of the All Stars. “We give back to the community.”
The group formed in 2006. One of its early goals was to rail against official government use of the “R-word.” The County Legislature in May 2010 passed a formal resolution, telling local, state and federal governments to no longer use the word “retarded” in describing people with developmental disabilities.
The R-word is a “vicious slang” that is insulting and hurtful to people with developmental disabilities and their families, legislators said in their resolution five years ago.
Vickie Randall works for The Arc of Orleans County and serves as an advisor to the All Stars. She said the group raises its own money for trips and for attendance at regional conferences.
The All Stars have stayed passionate about participating in parades and being active in the community, Randall said.
“It’s very important for them to say to the community, ‘We’re here and we want to be a part of you,’” Randall said. “They have strived really hard to get the word out that they are capable and willing to be active in the community.”
The All Stars visit local nursing homes, cemeteries and are working on adopting a highway to clean the roadsides of trash.
For more on the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, click here.