The 2020 Campaign
"I was on pins and needles since these men, for the most of their lives, had lived in an institution and they hadn't moved anywhere in about 50 years. Many were against this move voicing concerns that the move into the community would be a step-down, fraught with perils, damaging to the men and ripping them from all they knew. But each man was a new person, one was smiling. I had never seen him smile before. They each had their own bedroom and for the first time in their lives, they were sleeping in a queen bed. One of the men insisted that we enter through the front door so that he could open and close the door and let us know that this was his house. The other man proudly showed us his new room. Of course, I was hoping for a smooth transition, but this was more. This was a beginning, a blossoming of a new life."
- Eshter Rada, attorney for Connecticut Legal Services, who spent three years advocating for two men to move out of the Southbury Training School and into a community group home.
History of the Campaign
In 2014 the UCEDD joined with Disability Rights Connecticut (successor entity to Connecticut’s Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities) to begin the 2020 Campaign, focused on closing Southbury Training School and the regional centers by the year 2020. In 2015, this effort included legislative briefings and a full report to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) outlining a plan to close these facilities. The 2020 Campaign also held informational briefings with parents and self-advocates during 2015-16.
In 2017 the DD Network, in partnership with CT Public Television, produced a one-hour film called Building a Great Life. The video provides an overview of the issues in closing Southbury and the possibilities and benefits of community living. The video also features many national leaders in the disability movement, including Andy Imparato, Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD).
Building a Great Life Conference
In 2018 the UCEDD took the lead in planning and implementing a conference titled Building a Great Life, which focused on mobilizing parents, self-advocates, and service providers to develop community services and lead Connecticut’s efforts to close Southbury and the Regional Centers. Over 400 people attended the conference.