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Advocates For Closing Fernald Speak Out
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 18, 2004

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS--Advocates for closing Fernald Developmental Center held a press conference Thursday to demonstrate that people with the most significant disabilities can -- and should be allowed to -- live happy lives in the community.

According to the Boston Globe, the Arc of Massachusetts was joined by parents of children with disabilities who elected to not send them to Fernald or the state's other institutions housing people with developmental disabilities.

"Living in an institution is not the right way," said Carolyn Brennan, the mother of a 19-year-old man with a number of disabilities.

Arc representatives called those who want to keep the 156-year-old facility operating a "fringe" group, whose efforts are causing the state to spend a large portion of its budget to segregate people with disabilities.

"Segregation makes it outmoded, it's as simple as that," said Leo Sarkissian, president of the Arc of Massachusetts. "People with disabilities are being forced to make that choice (to be segregated) and their adulthood is lost."

Nearly two years ago, Governor Mitt Romney announced that Fernald would close by October 2004 and its 300 residents would move to other state-run facilities or into homes in the community. Romney hinted that closing Fernald was his first step in de-institutionalizing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Parents of some of those living at Fernald have effectively stalled the moves through the courts and other means. Their effort to turn over administration of Fernald over to a federal judge is pending.

"Advocates for retarded push case to close Fernald" (Boston Globe)
"Fernald Developmental Center -- Oldest Institution In the Americas" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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