Little City and “Together for Choice” unite in DC
Washington D.C. welcomed Little City and other members of “Together for Choice” on Nov. 8th for Illinois Day on Capitol Hill.
“Together for Choice” is a national advocacy organization with a mission to protect and advance the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live, work, and thrive in communities and settings of their choosing. This organization works to ensure that all individuals with disabilities have access to the same high-quality choices available to all people.
With the increasingly complex array of federal Medicaid and state agency rules that govern these critically important and personal housing and employment choices, regulations are reducing options and availability of long-term care services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Including Little City, thirty-two individuals representing Misericordia, Clearbrook, Trinity Services, Inc., Good Shepherd Manor and Park Lawn joined together on behalf of “Together for Choice” to have their voices heard. Family members of individuals being served by agencies, as well as self-advocates, passionately spoke to discuss the importance of communities like Little City and the positive impact the choice to live there has had on their lives.
Sister Rosemary Connelly, Executive Director of Misericordia, reinforced this sentiment to lawmakers including Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Senator Dick Durbin (D) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D), among others.
“Our purpose here is to redefine the definition of what community really means. It means choice for these individuals and their families,” Sister Rosemary said.
The represented agencies were encouraged by the staunch support of many of the lawmakers including Sen. Durbin, who agreed that there should be flexibility in how a community is defined.
Self-advocates were also eager to speak up for themselves. Ciara Craig, a resident of Little City in Palatine, emotionally addressed the room.
“I have a lot to do every day because of Little City,” Ciara said. “I lift weights, work in the community and spend time with my friends. Little City is my home and I love my life there.”
Along with “Together for Choice,” Little City will push for change in how a community is defined, and at the forefront of that definition, is choice. With powerful voices carrying a unified message, these supporters will continue to tirelessly advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the right to live, work and thrive in a place of their own choosing.
Being a leader for 59 years, Little City continues to be inspirational and transformational in developing its 56-acre therapeutic community in Palatine. From a modest beginning of three homes and 16 residents primarily with Down syndrome, Little City has grown into a recognized leader offering a wide array of innovative services to more than 1,000 clients weekly. In addition to the Palatine location, Little City has a Community Services Office in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, adult service centers in Palatine and Waukegan, and 13 adult community homes and one children’s group home located throughout suburban Cook and DuPage Counties.
Today, Little City’s comprehensive program portfolio includes vocational training and employment placement, foster care and adoption, home-based family support, health and wellness, recreation and therapeutic activities, disability awareness and community education, a day school and an award-winning arts program. Visit www.littlecity.org.