The Arc Northeastern Pennsylvania Achieve with Us
Advocacy
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Advocacy

Mandy Colville - Mcolville@thearcnepa.org
Roseann Polishan - Rpolishan@thearcnepa.org

Counties: Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Luzerne

Information and Referral - Individuals and families may not be aware of community supports and services available for them. Therefore, The Arc will provide information about available community resources and make referrals as needed.

Individual Advocacy - In most cases this is a short term association between the advocate and the client. Issues are diverse and include accessing services, employment, benefits, exploitation, education, housing, abuse, neglect, legal matters and more.

Systems Advocacy and Governmental Affairs - In line with our on-going effort to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, The Arc actively communicates with legislators regarding pending and/or necessary legislation.

Public Awareness and Community Education - The Arc speaks to individuals and groups on various issues related to prevention and reducing the consequence of intellectual and developmental disabilities through education, research, advocacy, and the support of families, friends and community.

Mandy Colville
I’m Mandy Colville and I have been an advocate at The Arc of NEPA since 2018. My background as an Elementary and Special Education teacher has given me a strong understanding of every student’s right to an appropriate education. My commitment to the disabilities community grew once I became a mother to children with disabilities myself and saw the challenges we faced. My children have inspired me to work on making changes for the better in schools and communities for all individuals with disabilities. I began providing support, outreach and resources in Pike County in 2012 by forming the North PPODS and Friends group. I also remain very involved in the Delaware Valley School System, as well as served on the Center for Developmental Disabilities Board of Directors and coached the Special Olympics Young Athlete Program over the years. Currently, I am a member of the System of Care Leadership Team and a consumer representative for the IU20 Local Task Force. My experiences lead me to helping individuals advocate for their rights and expanding resources in our rural area. As an advocate for The Arc of NEPA, I continue my training in educational advocacy and disabilities rights to best be able to assist the individuals we serve. Overall my mission as an advocate is to give parents the tools and resources they need to become better advocates for their own children, further the inclusion movement and help make positive changes in communities for all individuals with disabilities.

Roseann Polishan
My name is Roseann Polishan, I have been an advocate at The Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania since 2017. Advocacy for those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities has been my passion for many years. It all began with my own son Hunter Polishan when he was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old and later with intellectual disability. I realized quickly that I needed to be patient and positive, yet proactive and persistent to help him navigate through the world and reach his potential. Through the years I have increased my knowledge in the field of advocacy in particular with education and legislative matters. I have taken a number of trainings, classes and workshops through COPAA, Wrights Law, Peal Center, Pattan and the Arc US in all areas of the IEP process, including transition planning, IDEA and Chapter 14 regulations, as well as assistive technology, future planning and inclusive practices. I started a special education parent group in the Scranton School District and lead the Right to Education Task Force IU19 as the parent chairperson. My goal is to promote the mission of the Arc for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lives.

An Excerpt from The Arc’s Annual Report 2020

Prior to COVID-19, a meeting was arranged to discuss issues due to lack of services for those with disabilities in Pike County. Parents and professionals presented stories of how the lack of services impacted their families to our Pike County Commissioners, Rep. Mike Pfeifer, Senator Lisa Baker and a staffer from Rep. Rosemary Brown's office. The discussion revolved around changes needed legislatively, the need for more funding and services in Pike, and the need to understand the challenges of those with disabilities living in a rural area. The discussion was very well received by our elected officials. Unfortunately, the shutdown came soon after and the focus has shifted in the meantime.

2020 has been quite the year for everyone across the world, including here at The Arc of NEPA. The mission of advocacy which stands out has not changed due to the pandemic, the delivery just had to be adjusted. More than ever, folks needed assistance navigating the complexity and ever-changing policies of the pandemic world.

Many of our planned in person events and community outreach programs were not possible in 2020. We had to postpone Wings for All, Intelligent Lives and our Future Planning Workshop until pandemic conditions improve but we look forward to hosting them again in the future.

Since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the Advocacy department has learned to adapt to remote operations. We have been participating in new trainings on a weekly basis to keep informed of the ever-changing guidance, particularly with special education, so that we can best serve our consumers. We have been utilizing technology to attend and participate in IEP meetings, review documents, meet with families and share resources. There have been many useful presentations that were not previously available to us due to location that now are through the widely used technology platforms. The Advocacy department has developed and implemented a new training series offered virtually that began this Fall, which will continue monthly through May.

The advocates have arranged for the following presenters to pass on information and knowledge to families using Zoom: PaTTAN Parent Advisors (Department of Education Resources), Bradley Goldsmith Special Education Attorneys (COVID-19 related educational questions), Asert (Autism Resources) and HUNE (Bilingual Special Education support). We have been able to utilize new resources, collaborate with other agencies and reach a wider audience even beyond our coverage area with these new initiatives. Our training series has been very well received and it continues to evolve with our advocates conducting their own presentations virtually beginning in 2021 on topics of early intervention transition process, ABC's of IEPS and more.

" I Can" Project - Celebrating Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day and we are proud to present the "I Can" project!!!! The "I Can" project is a celebration of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities focusing on their accomplishments, talents, skills and all the qualities that lead to a happy life. A HUGE thank you goes out to Roseann Polishan, Mandy Colville and all the folks who participated in this awesome video - Please enjoy and feel free to share.

 

 
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