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One of the major reasons for this expansion, according to the President's Committee, was that activity programs had very definitive roles in state-wide plans for the continuum of programs and services. In addition to preventing institutionalization, activity centers began to enhance public school special education programs for trainable adolescents and young adults by cooperative-joint programming.

In some places the schools had people with developmental disabilities for one-half of the day and the activity center had them for the remaining part. Activity programs have also promoted the growth and development of public schools classes for trainable students between the ages of 17-21 years

The growth of segregated programs was truly remarkable. Paul Wehman estimates that there were well over 1,000,000 persons in 5,000 segregated day programs in the United States alone during the 1960s.

At the same time, there was growing experience with the participation and contributions of people with developmental disabilities in the real world of work. The Federal Government provided significant leadership in hiring people with developmental disabilities.

In 1964, the first full year of the program, 361 placements were made. By mid-1967, the cumulative number of placements was 3,241 and 79% of all appointees were still on duty. Only 7% of the placements were ended because of poor performance or social adjustment. Most of the placements were in jobs titled laborer, clerk, messenger, substitute mail handler, laundry worker, and food service worker.

Nevertheless, the placements spanned 64 different job titles in 38 Federal agencies in 50 states. Many of the jobs (25%) were in the Washington, D.C. area. By the end of the ten year program, the federal government employed 7,500 people labeled mentally retarded. The federal program was complemented by the National ARC training-on-the-job project which had its greatest impact in the 1970s.

Man working at a bench
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.
People working in a factory
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.
Woman working on a basket
Photo courtesy Metro Work Center