Search By Tag: Advocacy

By Sunrise Group on January 17, 2017

Sunrise Artists Honored By President Obama

Last week, an honor that was, literally, "years in the making" surprised a team of local artists. Members included Albert, Victor, Maximo, Danyell, Camille, Robert, Kyle, Pascale, Terese and Jose who receive services at the Doral Adult Day Program. Their collective art featured a unique rendition of the American Flag that took over five months to assemble. The 30" x 47" work of art was presented to President Obama in late 2016 by Florida Senator Dwight Bullard (D-39.) The artists are very proud of their creative work and equally as proud of the work that President Obama has done to protect and expand the rights of people with disabilities.

By Sunrise Group on January 4, 2017

Advocacy Season Starts Now!

We’re mere weeks away from the first of the 2017 state sessions. As a disability advocate, your help is needed to promote, protect and defend the human rights of people with disability. In addition to the threat of a federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act, many states are proposing Medicaid Block Grants for all enrollees including people with disabilities. The challenge of block grants is compounded by the issue that many states already have existing Wait Lists with thousands of families in need of community-based disability services. Needless to say, there is a lot of work to do in the months ahead. Sunrise urges you to sign up as a self-advocate or ally via:

By Sunrise Group on September 21, 2016

Dr. James Weeks Receives President’s Award from Florida ARF

Dr. James Weeks has served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer as well as Corporate Treasurer/Secretary for the Sunrise group of companies since 1989. On Wednesday, September 21, the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (FARF) recognized Dr. Weeks for his significant contributions to the field of developmental and acquired disabilities. Jim earned the President’s Award for going “above and beyond in providing outstanding leadership and service to Florida ARF and representing the interest of the individuals served.” Sunrise could not be more proud of Jim! CONGRATULATIONS, DR WEEKS!

By Sunrise Group on August 23, 2016

National Public Policy: Service Providers Turn To Washington For Help

The Disability Community Act, which is supported by United Cerebral Palsy, Autism Speaks, the Autism Society and Easter Seals in addition to ANCOR, is estimated to cost about $300 million. The bill was introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and has support from Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, as well as both chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. If passed, the bill would offer a temporary increase in federal Medicaid dollars for programs serving people with developmental disabilities. Advocates are still working to get a companion bill introduced in the U.S. Senate.

By Sunrise Group on August 10, 2016

Disability History: The Hidden History of Eugenics

The first eugenics law in the United States was passed in Connecticut in 1895. Then in 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, by a vote of 8 to 1, to uphold a state’s right to forcibly sterilize a person considered unfit to procreate. The case, known as Buck v. Bell, centered on a young woman named Carrie Buck, whom the state of Virginia had deemed to be “feeble-minded.” All told, as many as 70,000 Americans were forcibly sterilized during the 20th century. The victims of state-mandated sterilization included people like Buck who had been labeled “mentally deficient,” as well as those who who were deaf, blind and diseased. Who was Carrie Buck, and why must we never forget her legacy?

By Sunrise Group on August 5, 2016

UCP of Southwest Florida in Naples Hosts A Mock Candidate’s Forum

As Sunrise is gearing up for our participation of National Voter Registration Day on September 27, 2016, we are working to make sure that our staff and the self-advocates we serve are not left out on election day, November 8th, 2016. We believe that realizing human rights is the essential first step to building just societies. Recently, UCP of Southwest Florida hosted a mock candidate’s forum; where individuals learned about the campaigning and election process. A tremendous thanks to Heather Wysocki, Voter Education Coordinator, Office of the Honorable Jennifer J. Edwards, Supervisor of Elections who created ballots for our Naples “special election.” as well as for bringing voting equipment for training day. Every one had fun!!

By Sunrise Group on July 25, 2016

Sunrise Supports Project VOTE

On Saturday, July 23, 2016, People First of South Florida (Dade and Broward Chapters), Abilities Venti, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council and Disability Rights Florida hosted “Project Vote” in South Florida. The event kicked off at the North Dade Regional Library at 10 am and ran through 5 pm in Miami Gardens. Sunrise self-advocates were represented by George Carrasco (who is also the Presidential Advisor of the People First of South Florida South Dade Chapter) and Linda Angress, from Sunrise Social Services. Project Vote is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded on the belief that an organized, diverse electorate is the key to a better America. Project Vote’s mission is to build an electorate that accurately represents the diversity of this nation’s citizenry, and to ensure that every eligible citizen can register, vote, and cast a ballot that counts. American democracy is always a work in progress. Make your voice heard… and vote this election cycle!

By Sunrise Group on July 5, 2016

ABLE United Opens in Florida

The ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act authorized states to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. In Florida, self-advocates and allies make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities every day. Thanks to a dedicated group of Sunrise advocates and others in the greater disabilities community, the ability to open an ABLE United account in the sunshine state is now a reality. ABLE United launched the first week of July. The site has a wealth of information and the tools needed to help make Floridians with disabilities aware of this new financial option. The tax-free account allows families to save like never before and empowers self-advocates to invest in their future. It’s a new day for Floridians with disabilities. Learn more about ABLE United accounts and how to start saving for a better life experience.

By Sunrise Group on June 22, 2016

Sunrise Celebrates Community Inclusion on the 17th Anniversary of Olmstead

ODAY IN DISABILITY HISTORY: On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court issued its landmark “Olmstead v. L.C.” decision fundamentally changing the lives of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson–who had both been languishing in an institution for years after their initial treatment ended. Lois and Elaine filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for release from the Georgia facility–and, in doing so, affirmed the constitutional right to self-determination not only for themselves, but also for other Americans with disabilities to live outside of institutions, opening avenues and increase opportunities to enhance our communities and our lives.

By Sunrise Group on June 14, 2016

UCP of Southwest Florida in Clewiston Supports REVUP!

“REV UP” is a national campaign led by The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). REV UP is the acronym for “Register, Educate, Vote and Use your Power.” The goal is to promote and ensure that people with disabilities are fully participating in the political process. UCP of Southwest Florida strongly supports self-advocacy and self-determination. As part of that effort, on June 9, 2016, Clewiston’s Adult Day Training Center hosted a legislative advocacy program featuring a voting demonstration from Hendry County. Program participants met their local candidates, ensured their respective voter registrations were up to date, and engaged in practicing their voting skills with the help of, Ms. Brenda Hoots, Supervisor of Elections of Hendry County.

By Sunrise Group on June 9, 2016

Don’t Miss Sunrise Speakers at the 18th Annual Family Cafe in Orlando!

This year’s 18th Annual Family Cafe will once again include more than 160 breakout sessions on relevant topics, a series of engaging keynote events, an Exhibit Hall with dozens of booths, and plenty of opportunities for connecting with other families. Sunrise professionals from the northern and southern ends of the state will converge in Orlando to provide outreach and education designed to prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disabilities as well as to empower self-advocates and allies with the tools of online advocacy. Come see us on Friday in Bayhill 20 at 4:30 p.m. for the latest and greatest on online advocacy and stop by Bayhill 29 the next morning at 11:00 a.m. to learn about the recently launched “Respect Every Ability” Campaign. See you there!

By Sunrise Group on June 3, 2016

Inclusive Voices: Self-Advocates Take on Hollywood

Hollywood has a history of snubbing minority groups, but there’s been some incremental progress recently. Just look at “Master of None,” “Creed,” “Transparent,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Fresh Off the Boat.” Disabled characters, however, remain an anomaly, and when they do show up, they’re usually either tragic victims or sources of inspiration. That may be changing. Self-advocates are outraged at the new movie “Me Before You” for its disabled lead character who feels his life is no longer worth living. Going forward, there’s pressure for other writers to get it right. Next up is “Speechless,” a sitcom starring Minnie Driver as the mother of a disabled boy, and the movie “The Fundamentals of Caring,” in which Paul Rudd plays a young man’s caregiver. Thanks to the response to “Me Before You,” those projects face a new world, in which disability activists feel more empowered than ever to share their feelings.

By Sunrise Group on May 19, 2016

Public Policy: Georgia Commits To De-Institutionalization by 2018

On Wednesday, May 18th, Georgia state officials acknowledged their efforts, to to find appropriate, safe homes for people with disabilities who have been institutionalized for decades, have fallen short. In a statement from Governor Nathan Deal, he described the new agreement as “a significant accomplishment for the state of Georgia. They agreed to at least two more years of federal oversight, pledging new spending if necessary. Advocates for people with disabilities praised the new agreement, saying it indicates the state will try much harder to ensure quality care for patients transferred into community facilities. The state’s new efforts will specifically focus on former hospital patients with particularly complex medical issues. As of January, 266 Georgians with developmental disabilities remained in the hospitals.

By Sunrise Group on May 16, 2016

Sunrise Supports #REVUP – Making the Disability Vote Count

More than any time in recent memory, Americans with disabilities have the power to influence the outcome of the 2016 Primary and General Election. Elected leaders and political candidates are recognizing the 57 MILLION Americans with disabilities—from birth to advanced age—as a powerful, important constituency. Issues important to people with disabilities – like accessibility, community inclusion and aging in place – must be part of the platform for any candidate running for public office. Join Sunrise in support of the REVUP campaign to advocate for policies that allow people with disabilities to fully participate in the political process, including ensuring the accessibility of polling locations and through promoting the availability of accessible voting technology.

By Sunrise Group on May 13, 2016

Happy Friday 13th! … Sunrise Community of Maryland is #Fearless at the State Convention

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. 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!

By Sunrise Group on May 9, 2016

National Public Policy: Feds Say Relying On Nursing Homes For Those With Disabilities Not OK

The issue of inappropriate placement of children and young adults with developmental disabilities has been in the Florida news for almost a decade. However, the problem is not isolated to just one state. In fact, according to the Feds, many states in the US are guilty of forcing thousands of people with disabilities to live in segregated nursing facilities to receive services. To a large degree, the controversy is over money: Now, the Justice Department is calling for states to expand their community-based services offerings and transition services for those who can and wish to move to more integrated settings. It is a move towards community inclusion, which Sunrise strongly supports.

By Sunrise Group on May 5, 2016

Success Story: Competitive Employment in Clarksville, Tennessee

At work, it’s what people CAN do that matters. The National Campaign for Disability Employment is a collaborative effort to promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities by encouraging employers and others to recognize the value and talent they bring to the workplace. Sunrise’s Clarksville, Tennessee operations serve as a good example of how disability employment benefits employers as well as their employees. Whether good economic times or bad, it’s the organizations that know how to identify and recognize talent that are most likely to succeed. Businesses that are inclusive of people with disabilities – in recruitment, retention and advancement – benefit from a wider pool of talent, skills and creative business solutions. Clarksville’s competitive employment success story speaks to the contributions that people of all abilities make everyday.

By Sunrise Group on April 26, 2016

MARYLAND: Disability Voter Guide Released

As voters head to the polls in Maryland today, RespectAbility released its Maryland Disability Voter Guide. Fully one-out-of-five voters have a disability, and 52 percent of likely voters have a loved one with a disability. According to the latest census, 35 million Americans with disabilities are of voting age. This means that voters with disabilities are now one of the largest groups of potential voters (called voting blocs) in American politics. Some have called the disability vote the “Sleeping Giant” of American politics. This is because people with disabilities have not voted in the same numbers as most Americans. If people with disabilities register and vote at the same rate as the rest of the nation, between 5 and 10 million more votes will be cast in the next Presidential election! Make your voices heard & VOTE TODAY Marylanders!

By Sunrise Group on April 1, 2016

April is National Autism Awareness Month!

April is National Autism Awareness Month! Having just past its 30th year, National Autism Awareness Month remains singular in its focus to promote awareness, acceptance, inclusion and appreciation for all individuals living with an autism diagnosis. Awareness is just the first step in the journey to improve the lives of those affected by autism. Awareness must lead to acceptance and acceptance must lead to action. True progress is achieved when individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder are appreciated for their unique contributions to society.

By Sunrise Group on March 29, 2016

Public Policy: Disability Providers Warn Overtime Rule May Impact Services

A federal proposal to require overtime pay for many professionals who support people with disabilities living in the community could force service cuts, providers say. That change could have big consequences for people with disabilities. An analysis commissioned by ANCOR suggests that paying overtime for workers who are currently exempt will add over $1 billion in costs for agencies serving those with disabilities in the first year alone. That’s a problem, ANCOR says, since providers are paid primarily through Medicaid. “That is why we are calling on Congress to pass legislation to provide states with temporary assistance to increase Medicaid funding support for providers accordingly so that they can afford to comply with this rule and other unfunded mandates like it,” said Gabrielle Sedor, chief operations officer at ANCOR.

By Sunrise Group on March 11, 2016

Florida’s Governor Scott Includes People With Disabilities To Make Florida First!

On Thursday, March 10, 2016, self-advocates and staff from Sunrise operations in Tallahassee made their way to the Capitol to award appreciation plaques to the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House and other key legislative champions that worked to include Floridians of all abilities in this year’s record $8.2 Billion State Budget. Florida’s House and Senate put together a spending plan for this year that increases the state budget by roughly 5 percent. Sunrise was represented at the appreciation awards by self-advocates from UCP Tallahassee’s LifeLinks program, Jeremiah Johnson and Grant Williams. UCP LifeLinks Program Coordinator, Sarah Whittington, and Direct Support Associate, Shareka Frazier accompanied the self-advocates as they met with Florida’s legislative leaders to thank them for their support of people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

By Sunrise Group on February 11, 2016

UCP on the Potomac Treks To Annapolis for DD Day in Maryland

On Wednesday, February 10, 2016, UCP on the Potomac joined a group of 600 advocates and allies from the greater disabilities community in Annapolis for “DD Day” at the Capitol. 2016 marked yet another year with a standing room only crowd. Despite morning snowfall, hundreds of dedicated advocates engaged with leaders at the Capitol and shared legislative priorities. Represented by Gale Gray, this year marked UCP on the Potomac’s inaugural participation in the annual event which is sponsored by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Coalition. Just days after DD Day, the Maryland General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review Committee (AELR) put a ‘hold’ on controversial proposed regulations impacting children and adults with developmental disabilities. Advocacy works! Our thanks to the Maryland General Assembly.

By Sunrise Group on January 20, 2016

Sunrise Celebrates IDOA! #WearYourHeartOnYourSleeve

With an estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide, equal inclusion in the community should seem like a natural part of daily life. Unfortunately, many people still face barriers and do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others, which includes areas of transportation, employment, and education as well as social and political participation. It is important to focus on the ability and not on the disability of an individual. The first step is acceptance of the fact that disabilities are in deed a natural part of life. A disability may impact any person from and background at any stage in their life. People will disabilities still make contributions and should enjoy active participation in any community. Join Sunrise in celebrating acceptance and IDOA!

By Sunrise Group on January 18, 2016

Inclusive Voices: 10 Disability Awareness Lessons Learned From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At one point in time people with apparent disabilities were prohibited to be seen in public in order to prevent sensitivities of people without disabilities. In 1970, Americans with disabilities were sterilized against their will. Today, most would cringe at the thought of treating people with disabilities in such a way. Resulting from Dr. King’s extraordinary efforts in the civil rights movement, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed on July 26, 1990. According to Arlene Mayerson, the act “adopted many of the strategies of the civil rights movement before it. Equal opportunities should be available to all shapes, sizes, ethnicity, disabled or able-bodied. The disability rights movement to this day can still be promoted and fought for by people with and without disabilities.

By Sunrise Group on January 13, 2016

What Does The Disability Integration Act Propose?

On December 18, 2015, U.S. Senator Charles Schmer (D-NY) filed S. 2427 before the 114th Congress. The Bill is known as the “Disability Integration Act of 2015.” Many are asking exactly what the proposal will do for people with disabilities. Basically, the bill would expand access to community living for millions of Americans. Known as the Disability Integration Act, the legislation would dramatically alter the status quo. Current law generally assures people with disabilities care in nursing homes and other institutional facilities if they need assistance with eating, bathing, housekeeping and other daily activities. Unfortunately, the availability of community-based services is often more limited and subject to long waiting lists. Schumer’s proposal would outlaw such waiting lists and prohibit caps on services as well as other measures like low pay that may restrict access to community living. Sunrise encourages everyone to ask their Congressmen to support this bill!