Let’s travel back in time to needs of families and professionals in the year 1967-1968. A group of Ohio teachers working with children with learning problems called “trainable mentally retarded”, decided that they needed the professional camaraderie and support of other professionals. At that time, the programs for children and adults with moderate and severe retardation were under the direction of the county welfare departments. The teachers had little affiliation with others in the welfare departments of an educational nature and in all counties except the largest; the teachers were few in number. Very few universities offered training opportunities for them.
Established and incorporated in 1968 PAR is an association for individuals working in the field of Developmental Disabilities in Ohio. The original office was in Weymouth, Medina County, Ohio and was formed on December 10, 1968. The name of PAR stood for The Professional Association for Retardation in Ohio and the purpose of PAR at the time was “to improve the services for the mentally retarded and their facilities.”
In 1967, when Ohio law created the county boards of mental retardation, the teachers were increasing in number and later they were joined by the superintendents of the county programs. Gradually, other professions were added in home based services, adult services and middle management administrators.
During the mid seventies PAR was at a height of its membership and organized annual state conventions and combined with other groups to increase its membership. In the late seventies, the membership leveled off and attendance at the state conventions started dropping off. A few leaders became concerned and it was decided that they needed to make a full commitment to become a full service professional association. It was decided they would recruit the strongest leadership possible to guide the organization and by the summer of 1981 an Executive Director was hired. Under new leadership, it was decided that an important service to members was a highly professional state convention. Leadership was found to elevate the quality of conventions. Starting in 1980, the convention brought in nationally known speakers in the profession. Membership increased and status was achieved not only in the state, but nationally.
In 2009 the acronym for PAR changed to PAR – Professionals, Advocates, Resources to better reflect the services that are provided. Some of the needs have changed and the services have expanded, but PAR is still a very active and a viable player in the field of developmental disabilities. PAR continues to bring in national speakers and utilize the talents of the professionals in the field of disabilities to help enhance and train individuals on good quality services. The state conferences and membership have increased immensely over the past years and PAR continues to have regional trainings as well as networking opportunities. Awards are given annually to recognize people in out of the field on all different levels and PAR offers annual scholarships. Some members from the early days are still active and are serving on the board, while PAR continues to recruit and maintain new members and advocates in the field. The board has individuals from county boards, providers and retired individuals from all over Ohio. Representatives from PAR serve on numerous boards as well as serving on several state committees.