Disabled receive ‘fair’ treatment

Published 11:36 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Special to the Daily News

The Eastern Antique Power Association and The Arc of Beaufort County held a “farm fair” Saturday to raise the public’s awareness of people with intellectual and/or development disabilities.
Held at the farm of Stan Hudson, a Chocowinity resident, the event drew participants from area organizations such as the Beaufort County Developmental Center and Life Inc.
Participants were treated to tractor rides and food prepared especially for the disabled attendees.
Sandra Buckman, executive director of the Arc of Beaufort County, explained why she became involved with the Arc of Beaufort County and what she wanted to accomplish with the weekend event.
“People in our community with intellectual and developmental disabilities need people to advocate for them. They need support lifelong to become an integral part of the community. They need to be able to live the highest quality of life that they can live,” she said.
Buckman talked about her daughter who is living with a disability. Buckman’s daughter obtained a degree from an area high school.
“When my daughter was born, I was told not to take her home; I had three children at home, and I shouldn’t do that to them. I am glad I didn’t listen to them,” she said.
Buckman said her daughter is an exceptional violinist and loves to read and write.
“I started doing lessons with her, but had to quit because she was so far ahead of me. Her poetry is also very good,” she said.
Dalton Elks attended the event with his son, Phil. The elder Elks has been on the board of the Beaufort County Developmental Center and the Arc of Beaufort County for 35 years. Elks told of an “opportunity school” for disabled residents in the city in the 1950s. The school, which had six students, was located near the eastern end of East Second Street, near the former Bughouse museum. The school was in place before state legislators provided more opportunities for disabled people.
Elks said that when his son was born, educational opportunities for disabled people were scarce.
“When he was born, all we had for special education was three years in the first grade. And we were told don’t send him to school because he was too big to go with everyone else,” Elks said.
These days, Elks explained, with places like the Beaufort County Developmental Center, disabled people have a much better chance to advance. He noted that Washington resident Phil Roberson, before he died, was instrumental in formed BCDC.
Elks said he has benefited from having disabled son in his life.
“I’ve learned more from him than he has from me,” he said.
The Arc of Beaufort County participates in a coalition meeting annually in Raleigh to discuss issues with legislators. It also holds informational meetings and training meetings throughout the year for disabled people.