I have worked with people living with developmental disabilites for twelve years at The Progress Center. My primary role has been as the maintenance supervisor. This has been a unique role in that I have had the opportunity to get to know the people we support not as a staff person but just as Larry the guy who fixes things. This has been a great opportunity for me and I have learned that people are just people, whether we've been diagnosed or not. We all have dreams, desires and the same basic needs. The biggest and most positive change that I have seen is the move towards community inclusion for the people we support. When I started at The Progress Center we were a typical agency, to " protect " the people we should have allowed to grow we kept them isolated from the general public. We bused them to and from Day Program , kept them in the building doing mundane, often childish activities, herded them on a bus and took them to community activites in large groups, which scared the hell out of people in general and highlighted the disabilites of the people we support. About five years ago we started to adopt the principles of inclusion. That all people flourish doing what they are interested in and in being part of the fabric of the community. Everyone has a gift and to be encouraged to develop that gift and become engaged in the community allows people to develop. I have seen tremendous growth and progress in people's confidence and self worth by being treated with respect and dignity. One person living with a disability sharing their life with us as a classmate, team member, club member,friend, neighbor or coworker is just anouther person and has as much to offer society as anyone. There is no need and it's a great injustice for us in our ignorance and showing our disabilities and need for control to segregate our fellow human beings in special dances, seperate housing , special classes, clubs or sporting events and steal from them the chance to make mistakes and develop naturally that we all take for granted. I am very proud of the development in our attitudes and the fact the we encourage community involvement. It's not easy and requires a commitment in actions not words. There is always a choice between concience and conveinence and I'm proud of the direction The Progress Center has been moving in. L.J.