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January 9,  2015

Get excited about Wings for Autism!

Photo courtesy of The Arc of King County. 
Article courtesy of The Arc’s blog

Wings for Autism took flight at SeaTac Airport, and it was a great success. I am so grateful for all of the families who took part in our launch, as well as the many volunteers who made the event a success. The commitment of The Port of Seattle and Alaska Airline is phenomenal. They are single minded in making travel inclusive for everyone. The TSA even made going through security a positive experience. When that is true, you know that everyone was committed! Although I could say a lot more about the event, I would rather let some of the parents and event partners tell you about their experience.
Check out what people had to say about The Arc of King County’s Wings for Autism event:
From Lisa Okada Visitacion, Mom:
“Phenomenal event. Increasing awareness and understanding. Building confidence and skills. Giving families hope. These are just a few thoughts I had about the Wings for Autism event yesterday. Kelli (and all the other participants) did such an amazing job. Many, many thanks to all the volunteers (there were many!) and staff at The Arc of King County, Alaska Airlines, TSA and the Port of Seattle. We will remember this experience forever and will most likely be flying Alaska Airlines when we travel by air. (I wonder if we can we take along a few of the volunteers, too?!?!)””
From Jacki Jones Chase, Mom:
“We got in the plane and they taxied it all over the airport runways. Then they stopped and let the kids, and adults, go check out the cockpit and bathrooms – they really put on an awesome event for kids with Autism!”
Ray Prentice, Partner at Alaska Airlines:
“I didn’t realize until this event that a little bit of additional training and guidance, combined with our great caring employees, could totally change people’s lives. Speaking on behalf of Alaska Airlines’ volunteers I can openly share that we had a blast.  We felt a close connection with everyone at the event.”
**Stay tuned for more news and updates about Wings for Autism coming to Columbia Metropolitan Airport this April. Follow the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wingsforautismcolumbia. We are excited to be partnering with The Arc of SC, Pro-Parents of SC, SC Autism Society, Delta and Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE). For more information about the program, visitwww.thearc.org/wingsforautism or contact Melinda atmelinda@arcmidlands.org

Write to win your college education

​High school juniors and seniors between the ages of 16 and 19 years old  are eligible to enter a journalism contest sponsored by the SC Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. People with disabilities are strongly encouraged to enter this writing contest as the winner receives a four-year scholarship to the SC state supported institution of his or her choice.
The theme of the contest is “Expect. Employ. Empower.” A FAFSA form  may be needed as financial verification is required. This form is strongly recommended to be filled out by the deadline of the contest which is Jan. 31.
For more information or to ask questions, call the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department at 803-896-6503 or visitwww.journalism.scvrd.net. You may also view the past winners entries.

Understanding the ABLE Act

Sign up for a webinar regarding the recently passed (see article below) ABLE Act. Understand exactly what this act means. Pre-registration is needed so just click on the link to sign up: http://www.ourspecialneedschildren.org/live/. You won’t want to miss it.

ABLE Act signed by President Obama

Article from Disability Scoop

With his signature, the president has paved the way for people with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts where they can amass more than $2,000 without losing government benefits.
President Barack Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act Friday before leaving Washington for the holidays.
The new law will allow people with disabilities to open special accounts where they can save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government programs. What’s more, individuals can keep their Medicaid coverage no matter how much money is accrued in an ABLE account.
Modeled after 529 college savings plans, interest earned on savings will be tax-free. Funds accrued in the accounts can be used to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses.
To be eligible, individuals must have a condition that occurred before age 26 and each person may only open one ABLE account. Under current gift-tax limitations, as much as $14,000 could be deposited annually.
People with disabilities may be able to start opening ABLE accounts as soon as 2015. However, some hurdles remain. While the new law alters federal rules to allow for ABLE accounts, each state must now put regulations in place — much as they have done for other types of 529 plans — so that financial institutions can make the new offering available.
“We can’t mandate that a state will create a 529, but given the lobby that we’ve seen, I think by the end of next year, I think we’ll see this in every state,” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., one of the measure’s chief sponsors, said on a recent call with reporters.
The law’s name was amended in recent weeks to honor Stephen Beck, Jr., a longtime proponent of the bill who died unexpectedly in early December.

Other Arc Midlands sponsored programs: 

Mixed Greens is an awesome community gardens and projects group with fun and inclusive activities to be scheduled throughout the year
Walk with Ease – is about getting people in the community together to promote and increase physical activity and build new friendships. The program includes people with and without developmental and intellectual disabilities that walk with one another. It’s a great way for people to meet friends and stay active!  We offer structured 18 week programs onsite (schools and residential settings) and weekly Saturday walks.
Wings for Autism: The Arc of the Midlands in collaboration with The Arc of South Carolina, Pro Parents, and SC Autism society are planning to implement a Wings for Autism program in Augusta, GA and Columbia, SC in spring 2015. Wings for Autism® is an airport “rehearsal” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and aviation professionals.
NCCJD Chapter Champions for Justice:  Through this program, The Arc of the Midlands will help build the capacity of the criminal justice system to effectively identify, serve and protect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), many of whom have “mild” disabilities that often go unnoticed among criminal justice professionals without appropriate training.  Follow NCCJD on Facebook!
Project Search is a business-led collaboration that enables young adults with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration!  The Arc of the Midlands in partnership with the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department and Lexington-Richland School District 5 has been awarded a grant through the South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council to develop a Project Search site in the Columbia area.

Happy Friday!

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The Arc of the Midlands 218-B East Main Street, Lexington, South Carolina 29072
Phone: 803-693-5746  |  Contact Us