Arc Maryland’s 2016 State Convention kicked off on the morning of Friday the 13th and Sunrise Community of Maryland’s Executive Director, Norma Israel, joined the #BeFearless Campaign. Arc of Maryland chose this year’s theme, #BeFearless, because they believe that fearless people support each other.
Without question, cooperation and collaboration are vital for self-advocates and their families to make changes in the system and the communities where they live. People with intellectual disabilities (I/DD) are one of largest groups of people with disabilities in the world. As a community, people with I/DD have experienced generations of discrimination and humiliation, including mass sterilizations, institutionalization, isolation, and as subjects in deadly medical experiments. Today’s generation of self-advocates strive eliminate unnecessary stigma and isolation by urging respect and inclusion for people of all abilities. Maryland’s Heroes (and SHEroes) with disabilities “fly” in the face of conventional wisdom and challenge everyone to create a more inclusive and diverse world.
This year’s state convention features a wide range of topics from the latest updates on the ABLE Program to College Savings Plan of Maryland, a wrap-up of Legislative Session 2016 and highlights of the Employment First initiative along with Public Speaking Tips for advocates, information on CMS Settings Rule, and an oveview of Supported Decision-Making. Keynote speaker for today’s convention was Brian Boyle, an internationally renown healthcare advocate and survivor, who spoke about the importance of caregiving and being FEARLESS during our 2016 Convention Opening Plenary Session. A native of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Brian miraculously survived a horrific car crash in 2004. His body was crushed and the force of the impact permanently moved internal organs. He lost 60 percent of his blood and then lost 100 lbs. during his medically induced coma and recovery.
When Brian finally woke up, he never believed he would walk again. His story of not only surviving, but thriving inspired everyone in attendance at the 2016 convention including Ms. Israel. At the very heart of Brian’s presentation was the appreciation and gratitude of hard work for healthcare providers and what caregiving means to people. Representing Sunrise’s dedicated employees and the services we provide in Maryland, Norma provided educational outreach to attendees and their families from the floor of the exhibition hall. A longtime advocate and professional service provider, she truly is a fearless leader!