Remembering Willowbrook: People Inc. Hosts OPWDD Exhibit Commemorating History as Closure Anniversary Nears
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Willowbrook Developmental Center and the beginning of a movement that enabled individuals with developmental disabilities to transition out of institutions and into community-based services. To commemorate the closing, as well as the 40th anniversary of Geraldo Rivera’s national exposé, the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has developed Remembering Willowbrook, a traveling exhibit that depicts the timeline and progression of service delivery from Willowbrook to the present day.
Remembering Willowbrook will be on display at the Museum of disABILITY History from August 9th to 20th, at 3826 Main Street in Buffalo; an opening reception is scheduled for the 9th.
Overview of the History
In 1972, Geraldo Rivera, then a reporter for WABC-TV, conducted a series of investigations at the Staten Island facility uncovering a host of deplorable conditions.
The state began deinstitutionalization efforts in the late 1970s, and since then more than 6,200 community homes have been developed, and 13 institutions closed.
OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke said, “Since Willowbrook, our system, which includes a vast network of more than 700 nonprofit providers, has gone on to enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Today, we as a society can be very proud of the progress we have made. However, we must always remember how this journey began. I thank People Inc. and the Museum of disABILITY History for hosting this exhibit and working so diligently to make a difference in the community every day.”
“The Museum of disABILITY History is pleased to host the Remembering Willowbrook Exhibit and Open House event,” said James M. Boles, Ed.D., president of People Inc. “It is important to remember and document this history and focus on moving forward to continue to better serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Willowbrook represents all that was wrong with institutions in the past. The appropriate type of place is the focus today, which is to provide services for individuals with developmental disabilities in their home community.”
Thursday, August 9, 2012, 2 p.m., Remarks at 2:30 p.m.
Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo
August 9 to 20, 2012
The Museum of disABILITY History maintains regular hours (Tuesday- Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Group tours available. For more information, call 716-629-3602.