65 years ago a small group of parents joined together to obtain services for their children with developmental disabilities who were then considered ineducable. Originally, their coming together was a response to a two line classified ad in the New York Post placed by the mother of a then 5-year-old child. At first only a few parents responded, but within a year, word of mouth, a number of brief news items, and a human-interest story in the newspaper united hundreds of parents.
These parents were accustomed to hearing words such as, "Your child is not normal and will never be able to learn anything." "He/she will be a burden to you and your family." "Institutionalize him/her now." They did not listen. Instead, they banded together to support one another, and to provide their children with every opportunity to grow. This was the beginning of AHRC, the New York City Chapter of NYSARC, Inc. (formerly the New York State Association for Retarded Children).
The vivid memory of that time not too long ago when the developmentally disabled were treated as outcasts, has been an underlying force propelling AHRC to advocate for the rights of the disabled, to change legislation and public policy, and to develop programs for new and emerging populations that are underserved.
The aim of AHRC's work has been to offer individuals with disabilities day to day living that is as rich, absorbing and worthwhile as possible, with an emphasis on helping individuals live up to their maximum potential in the community.
Video: 50th Anniversary Film - AHRC's History
"The History of AHRC New York City" - Following the journey
of AHRC founder Anne Greenberg.
What We've Accomplished Together
Over the past sixty years, AHRC New York City has helped to create a life for people with developmental disabilities that did not exist previously. Some of AHRC's “firsts” include:
- The creation of the first medical clinic for children with then called mental retardation at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in 1950;
- In 1954 the establishment of the first sheltered workshop in the U.S. funded by a federal grant;
- In 1970 the opening of the first group residence in New York State on East 16th Street in Manhattan;
- The ceding of portions of its special education program to the New York City Board of Education to use as a model for public school special education classes in 1974;
- In 1985 the creation of the first sibling network to deal with the issues of sisters and brothers of individuals with developmental disabilities;
- In collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY) the creation of the CUNY Consortium on Disabilities in 1989;
- The opening of the first licensed out-patient alcohol and substance abuse clinic for people with developmental disabilities in 1994;
- In 1995, the opening of the first facility in the State providing ongoing community based services to people who are disabled as the result of incurring a traumatic brain injury.