The Arc of Western Wayne County was founded by parents in 1954 as the Western Wayne Association for Retarded Children. Almost no educational, employment or recreational opportunities were available in the late 1950’s for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities living in southwestern Wayne County, and families were commonly encouraged to institutionalize their children.
Small groups of parents chose to seek alternative solutions for their children, and began to band together with other parents across the state of Michigan with a common goal and commitment to “promote the general welfare of people with mental retardation.”
In the beginning, The Arc of Western Wayne County chose to channel its efforts to meeting the immediate needs through direct service.
In 1954, a Day Care Center for children with mental and physical disabilities was started. This program remained in existence until September of 1971 when, after much political involvement and lobbying by parents, Michigan Public Act 198 was passed. Under this act, the local and intermediate school districts were mandated to establish classes for all students with disabilities under the age of twenty-five. The Arc was able to phase out the Day Care Center at this time.
In 1964, a Work Activity Center for adults with developmental disabilities opened its doors and was operated by The Arc until September of 1973. The Arcs in Wayne County coalesced to create a separate agency, The Wayne County Associations for the Retarded, now Services to Enhance Potential, to operate the work activity programs.
Today, as we continue to keep in step with the social and political climate, our mission has not wavered. We realize that the success of our founders was their simplicity. Their mission remains close to our hearts, grounded in values and beliefs that demand a better life for children and adults with disabilities.