It started with a small seed in the 1950s: an idea that all children had the right to an education, medical care and places to play, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Back in 1950, there weren’t many choices if you had a child with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD). Services and supports were nonexistent. Parents were routinely encouraged to have their children institutionalized once they were diagnosed with a developmental disability. But a group of St. Louis area mothers decided to fight for other options.
The women traveled to the first national convention of the National Association of Parents and Friends of Mentally Retarded Children, and then started a St. Louis chapter. In 1952 the group became known as the St. Louis Association for Retarded Children. And very quickly, amazing things began to happen. Over the years, the St. Louis Arc expanded its services and programs, supporting more the 4,000 individuals with I/DD and their families each year.
As an affiliate chapter of The Arc of the United States, the St. Louis Arc has followed and adapted language and name changes in-line with the national organization. In the 1990s, the Arc of the United States moved away from being an acronym, as did the St. Louis Arc. We are no longer branded or referred to as SLARC, the ARC or St. Louis ARC; we are simply, St. Louis Arc.
All of us at the St. Louis Arc are grateful for the wonderful letters, comments and referrals we receive from families, parents, friends and participants. When you are sharing your experiences with others, please make sure you also help them remember our name: St. Louis Arc.
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. ‘We strongly believe the only ‘r-word’ that should be used when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is “Respect.” – The Arc of the United States
We encourage all to learn more about the history of the St. Louis Arc.