SEPTEMBER 27, 1954
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Someone has just sent me a novelty greeting card for my birthday. It is in a long box, and tied to it is an ivory back scratcher! The card says "Happy birthday to someone who has everything"—but I know few people who have everything.
In these days a back–scratcher is certainly a novelty, though I found quite a number of them among my mother-in-law's old Chinese things. One looks at these very beautiful, delicately-carved Chinese back–scratchers and wonders how many hours men worked on the fine carving. Making these things was an art, but I am sure that now the Chinese are not putting in as much time on their artistic productions.
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I had a visit not long ago in my office from a woman who came in the interests of the Association for the Help of Retarded Children. It is only recently that people have really begun to do something for these children. There was a time when they were placed in an institution, or hidden away in the family where, as far as possible, they were forgotten. But the parents of some of these children finally banded together into a non-sectarian, non-profit organization which is dedicated to the welfare of the retarded child everywhere. There is a national association, but the lady who came to see me represented the New York affiliate.
They are going to conduct their first nationwide campaign and have succeeded in having November 14 to 23 named by the White House as "National Retarded Children's Week." Col. Arthur Levitt, president of the New York City Board of Education, will head the local drive.
Few of us realize, I think, that mental retardation affects about three percent of our population, which means 200,000 in greater New York alone. None of the other children's diseases equal this total. It affects children of every race, color and creed, rich and poor alike.
The Association for the Help of Retarded Children in New York City alone supports two clinics, a school, and three retarded classes in a public school. It has one training center and sheltered workshop for adults in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan. It conducts nine recreation groups for teenagers and adults. It has camp scholarships and scouting activities. The association also tries to be a center for education and information on this subject, which touches the lives of many families.
In sum, it is really trying to do something for these children, who so often feel left out by their companions, as well as for the older people who are shut out from many of the activities around them.