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Inspiring the developmentally disabled

9:22 PM, Sep 17, 2011   |    comments
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"The Arc is really good for people like me that are self-advocates and we learn a lot," said Rossart, Aurora resident.

Rossart is intellectually disabled. The Arc of the United States has supported people with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1950. The non-profit group is holding its 60th annual National Convention at the Downtown Denver Sheraton Hotel.

Chief Executive Officer Peter V. Berns says the point is to energize people.

"The idea is that people with intellectual, developmental disabilities, they can achieve their dreams," said Berns. "They can live in the community. They can have jobs."

Rossart is a living example.

"We are people. We can stand up for our rights and we know what to do and we know how to say no," said Rossart.

Berns points out that there is still a lot of work to do even after all the efforts of The Arc.

"But, the reality is that there still is a lot of bigotry and discrimination. There are even hate crimes that are perpetrated against people with disabilities," said Berns.

On September 1st, a developmentally disabled employee was sexually assaulted at an Arc Thrift Store at Broadway and Florida Avenue in Denver. It is a separate organization from The Arc. Police are still looking for the assailant.

"Unfortunately, we hear too many cases like that around the country where people with disabilities are victims of violent crimes like that," said Berns.

That is why they are here. They want to work together to put an end to the hatred.

"I'm saying to the community there's nothing wrong with us and we're just like normal people and everybody else," said Rossart.

As an inspiration, Lauren Potter, a mentally disabled actress who appears on the hit television show "Glee" greets fans and signed autographs. She has launched a nationwide campaign to put an end to what she calls, "The R-word."

"(Potter) shows us that we can do anything we put our heart to," said Rossart. "She showed us that you can just get out there and do it."

Rossart says all you have to do is believe.

"I'm there. I've been there and there's people like me that need the help," said Rossart.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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