On Friday, July 24, representatives from ADEC’s Power for Independence (PFI) chapter had the privilege of being present while Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill officially replacing all instances of “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in Indiana’s legal code.

Pence signed the bill at the annual Self-Advocates of Indiana (SAI) picnic in Indianapolis. The already festive atmosphere was heightened with the excitement of political change resulting from successful advocacy efforts.

ADEC Activities Coordinator Becky Curtis explained the importance of the bill as the group made the drive to Indianapolis. “I took it and I simplified it all,” Becky explained. “I said the ‘r-word’ would no longer be in state document and laws. We’ve talked a lot about getting rid of the ‘r-word’ in our programs, so [the clients] were all very excited.”

As the governor sat down to sign the bill, SAI board members and other advocates gathered behind him for the moment. ADEC’s own Richie Mann stood proudly with the group as Pence spoke a few words about the occasion and signed the bill.

Richie, a longtime SAI board member, took special responsibility on Friday to guide the clients who had never been to the picnic. Richie participated in the planning of the picnic and had friends on the planning committee, so he had the inside scoop of what would be happening that day.

During the drive, Richie told everyone about the dunk tank, corn hole games and sno-cones. When they arrived, he quickly informed everyone they should take their picture first because the lines get long after lunch.

The day was crowded with approximately 700 to 800 people attending. There were representatives from every SAI chapter in the state. Since it was such a safe, healthy environment, Becky took the approach of letting the clients learn to participate independently in activities. Someone would ask about going to get popcorn, and she would say something along the lines of, “Go for it. I can see you, everyone here is on your side, so you can do this on your own.”

“I see it all as a learning opportunity,” Becky explained. “Have patience to drive in a van with people, patience driving around construction. New experiences like having to use a porta-potty. Going out to eat and learning to spend money on a budget.”

After making the drive back from a fun picnic, the group went out to Applebee’s together to celebrate. Becky had asked each person to bring money for dinner, and they all worked together to order within their stated budgets. For some people, that meant weighing the benefits of ordering a drink or getting a bigger entrée. For others, it meant choosing between that fun appetizer and a dessert treat.

The celebrations will continue on Friday, July 31, as PFI hosts its annual ice cream social at ADEC Industries. Every client is invited to come check out this self-advocacy group.


Marvin Harris meets Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. (Photo by Brenda Falcone)

Did you know?

The annual Hacienda Day and Nelson’s Chicken sale benefit ADEC’s Power for Independence group. These fundraising activities make it possible for clients to advocate effectively and participate in special events at the statewide level.

Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist

Group photo by John Dickerson | Director of the Arc of Indiana, Retired