Keep Camp Harkness Alive
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In the State of Connecticut, a grievous fault has occurred. Governor Dannel Malloy has been making extreme budget cuts in all of the wrong places and our special needs community is feeling the brunt. It has been brought to my attention that my son's Birth to Three agency is being forced to close its doors due to funding not being provided by our crumbling state. Birth to Three’s mission is to “strengthen the capacity of families to meet the developmental and health-related needs of their infants and toddlers who have delays or disabilities.” Some of the remaining agencies will be merging together, leaving fewer resources to appropriately serve the population.
My son has received therapy services from this same agency since he was six months old due to torticollis and his premature size. Thanks to his amazing therapists, they have helped him crawl, walk, make leaps and bounds with his speech and provided us with additional supports that we will forever be grateful for. It is mind boggling to think that not only will his therapists be out of their jobs, but what the future holds for so many families who rely heavily on these services. How could the state of Connecticut possibly cut services to babies with developmental delays and disabilities when early intervention is so crucial?
There is more devastating news and this affects not just infants, but ALL people living with disabilities. Governor Dannel Malloy has a “proposed” bill to shut down Camp Harkness, our state park serving people with disabilities. Camp Harkness is unique among all state parks, bequeathed to our state veterans and children and adults of all ages living with disabilities. This special state park offers access and opportunities not available in other state parks and is the only beachfront camp in the entire country for people with disabilities. Through the vast use of cabins, cottages, participants of special events, tent campers, and day visitors numbering in excess of over 35,000 per year, as well as usage by 106 other groups and agencies, it is evident Camp Harkness is a “jewel” like our governor went on record to say.
Governor Dannel Malloy visited Camp Harkness in the summer of 2013 to give praise to the camp and the services that they provide. He visited due to the restorations that occurred after Hurricane Sandy devastated the grounds in the fall of 2012. “Camp Harkness is a jewel of Connecticut,” said Governor Malloy. “This is the only beachfront camp for individuals with disabilities in the country and with FEMA’s help like so many other communities in Connecticut, it has been restored to its original beauty.” http://www.ct.gov/dds/cwp/view.asp?Q=527392
Our state has invested significantly over the past number of years to improve the facilities and the user experience. The federal government allocated FEMA funds as well as to preserve this jewel of Connecticut. They too saw the importance and significance of Camp Harkness to those who need it. How can Governor Malloy so easily negate the needs of his citizens and the feelings of the federal government? So much has been invested in Camp Harkness and Malloy seeks to undo it with one swift swipe of his pen.
I strongly urge you to please sign this petition and stand behind the 35,000 families of the special needs community who benefit so greatly from this state facility and keep this one of a kind state park open to the people who deserve this wonderful park the most. Be the voice of this community that doesn’t have the reach to share their feelings and experiences directly with those who have the power to decide the future of such a beautiful and meaningful place!
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