In 2007, The Arc of Riverside County board member William Edwards, a criminal defense attorney, was appointed to the President’s Committee for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. This prestigious committee has been helping to set policy for Federal agencies and advising Presidents on intellectual disability issues since the Kennedy administration. In the 2008 annual report to the President, they said this about why the progress toward inclusion is not happening fast enough:
“All people, including those with intellectual disabilities, are endowed by their Creator with the same inherent value… but no amount of legislation that solely addresses government policy will ever be sufficient to create a truly inclusive society as long as the hearts and minds of the citizens of this country continue to harbor misinformed ideas and attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities.
“These attitudes are perpetuated through stereotypes, poorly formed mass media portrayals and depictions, and perhaps most significantly, the lack of personal experiences with people with intellectual disabilities. Truly, the most significant barriers to acceptance and inclusion rest in the minds of individuals who do not recognize the inherent value of people with intellectual disabilities”
Inspired by this report, soon after it was published, our local chapter of The Arc launched an initiative to do our part to hasten the progress. “The Value of One” is our affirmation that all people, with and without disabilities, have inherent value. This campaign has many initiatives including an effort to join forces with other organizations to end the “R” word and replace it with another “R” word, Respect.
Another initiative proposed was to use a wall on our property to make a visual statement to illustrate our above beliefs. Thus the concept of The Wall of Respect was born. Two years ago, we began looking for the right artist to create a large mural to make this visual statement that could be seen by those visiting our location and anyone else interested in our campaign. We were fortunate to find Erin Maxell and her parents. They are all accomplished mosaic artists.
Today, March 16, 2013, we are beginning this project at the site where it will be created over the next five months. If you wish to stay in touch with the progress of this mural, please give us your contact information and we will refer you to the social media sites that will document the progress and inform you of additional times when you can visit the site and perhaps even participate in the creation of the mosaic mural through a workshop led by artists, Erin and Kathy Maxwell. These sites will also inform you of other “Value of One” initiatives.
This Wall of Respect will be a permanent and important part of our city and contribute to its growing reputation as a city of art and innovation. To offset the cost of this artistic rendering, we will offer space on or at the wall for the public to purchase tiles with their name on them. By doing this, you not only help fund this project but will memorialize your commitment to a wonderful cause.
On behalf of The Arc of Riverside County, we thank you for your interest in this project.