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ITA, community comes together | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To the editor:
On the Fourth, we had the opportunity to be in the parade with our two daughters as part of the “Island Time Activities” float. If you didn’t see the float, it was a colorful and patriotic combination of a life sized Frog Rock (wearing a stars and stripes top hat) pulling Mount Rainier, surrounded by the waters of Puget Sound and emblazoned with the words, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” — all of this beneath a HUGE American flag.
The float embodied the creative efforts of more than 30 members of Island Time Activities (ITA, an organization that provides learning and social activities for people with developmental disabilities). For over three weeks, ITA members worked shaping and painting cardboard, tissue paper, paper mache and fabric and utilized lots of glitter. At the parade, with one intrepid member playing classical music atop Mount Rainier, 17 other ITA members rode on and walked alongside their own float in the largest community event of the year.
The float, with its celebration of “Independence for All,” was a triumph on a personal level for our family. When our daughter Maggie was born 32 years ago, more than one doctor suggested that, in light of her disabilities, we place her in an institution “for her own good.” Fortunately, after decades of hard work by families, disability rights advocates, self-advocates, educators and others, I doubt any doctor would make that recommendation today. Now, the aspiration, and very often the expectation, is that people with developmental disabilities live, work and recreate within their communities. However, making this inclusion work on an everyday basis faces significant practical and financial challenges — and many individuals with developmental disabilities rely on at least some assistance from private and public organizations.
Our family is particularly grateful for the support, the friendship and the fun that ITA has provided our daughter Maggie since she completed BHS. For this reason, when her sister Rose, along with several ITA members, embarked on the Fourth of July float, we were all for it.
In closing, we wish to thank the ITA members and their families for their hard work building and decorating the float; we wish to thank the businesses (Winslow Drugs, Paper Products, Winslow Paint and Safeway) and the individuals and families (Biggs, Kotloff, Caughie, Carroll, Claney, Erikson and Cleven) who donated funds and materials to the project; we wish to thank the organizations and citizens who continue working to ensure civil rights for all, regardless of physical and cognitive ability; and finally, we wish to thank the larger community of Bainbridge and North Kitsap for the support, welcome and inclusion it extends to residents with developmental disabilities.
KIMO AND SHERI MACKEY