Sunday, October 30, 2005

October 31: Dale Evans and Judy Fryd

Two influential mothers of children with developmental disabilities were born on October 31, just a few years apart. The better known of the two was American entertainer Dale Evans, born on this date in 1912; she wrote the cowboy standard, "Happy Trails to You," among other songs. She also wrote the parent confessional Angel Unaware (1953), about her daughter Robin Rogers (1950-1952), who had Down syndrome. The royalties of the bestselling book were donated to early work of the ARC (then the Association for Retarded Children). Read Dick Sobsey's Inclusion Daily Express essay The Other Dale Evans to learn more.

The lesser known of the two (shown above) was Englishwoman Judy Fryd, also born on this date, but in 1909, in London. The oldest of her four children, Felicity (1938-1993), was denied access to any kind of schooling, so in 1946 she wrote a letter to a magazine called Nursery World, and ended up organizing the Association for Parents of Backward Children. The group Fryd founded is now called Mencap, the biggest advocacy organization for people with learning disabilities in the UK. Judy Fryd was Mencap's vice president for twenty years, and before that served a quarter century as editor of the Association's magazine, Parents Voice.

Dale Evans died in 2001; Judy Fryd, in 2000. Their work, and that of countless other parents and advocates of their generation, means that today, more rights are recognized, more children are educated, and more people are embraced in their families and communities.

Some Print Sources for Further Reading:

Barbara Bair, "The Parents Council for Retarded Children and Social Change in Rhode Island, 1951-1970," Rhode Island History 40(November 1981).

Katherine Castles, "'Nice, Average Americans': Postwar Parents' Groups and the Defense of the Normal Family," in Mental Retardation in America: A Historical Reader, Steven Noll and James W. Trent, eds. (NYU Press 2004).

Kathleen W. Jones, "Education for Children with Mental Retardation: Parent Activism, Public Policy, and Family Ideology in the 1950s," in Mental Retardation in America: A Historical Reader, Steven Noll and James W. Trent, eds. (NYU Press 2004).

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