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The Arc

History of The Arc of Cowlitz County

Sixty years ago, a group of parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities banded together to create what would become The Arc of Cowlitz County.

From their efforts, our area’s early intervention agency, Progress Center, was developed. Adult Development Center, Applied Industries, and Camp Goodtymes at the YMCA were also started by The Arc in the earlier years.  

Residential Resources was also founded by The Arc of Cowlitz County, and community-based housing options for people with developmental disabilities became more available.  Prior to this, children with disabilities were routinely sent to live at state institutions.  Residential Resources changed their name to Life Works a few years ago.  Now, The Arc of Cowlitz resides there and is a division of Life Works.

The Arc has been fortunate to have had many passionate parents involved in its creation. Today, it is, again, a group of parents of children with developmental who are breathing new life into The Arc.  We are thankful for the parents who have blazed the trail for us, and we strive to offer hope and guidance to those parents new to the journey.  Our goal is to listen to the needs of self-advocates, families, and the community and to work to ensure that people with disabilities live full lives within their community.

Changing with the Times…What’s in a Name?

We often find that people think that The Arc is still “A.R.C.”  Not so.  

“What’s the difference?” many ask.  

The Arc started out as “Association for Retarded Children.”  Then it changed to the “Association for Retarded Citizens.”  As language changed, the word retarded began to be used as a put down and fell out of favor.

As noted on The Arc of the United States’ website,

“We, as an organization have been sensitive to the impact of terminology on our constituency and have adapted accordingly. As the words 'retardation' and 'retarded' became pejorative, derogatory and demeaning in usage, the organization changed its name to 'The Arc.'

Today, the term 'mental retardation' remains the terminology used in the medical field and referenced in many state and federal laws. However, 'intellectual disability' and 'developmental disability' are making their presence known, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure they're adopted more broadly.

We strongly believe the only 'r-word' that should be used when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is ‘Respect.’”