Family works to change Arkansas Code into law

Local News

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark.-A Pulaski County teen and his family celebrating a victory after convincing lawmakers to change two words that have been in the law books far too long

Dr. James and DeAnn Hunt made it their mission to get rid of the term “mentally retarded” and have it replaced with more acceptable terms like “intellectual or developmental disability.”

With the help of their son, Al who has down syndrome they went to work and made it happen.    

Al Hunt is 16-years-old and has down syndrome.

“I’m in 9th grade. I go to Robinson High School,” Al Hunt said.

“He’s a typical teenager in a lot of ways,” DeAnn Hunt said.

He’s already doing some pretty big things.

“Mom and dad are so proud of me,” Al Hunt said.

His parents pushed to get rid of the term, “mentally retarded” which can be found in the Arkansas code through House Bill 1651.

“It’s taken on a negative connotation and we didn’t feel like it was appropriate,” DeAnn Hunt said.

They partnered with a law firm and have been working with several representatives over the past 18 months.

“We are just replacing labels no one wants to live under negative labels,” James Hunt said.

Changing the language from mental retardation to intellectual or developmental disability.

“There is so much more to them they have so much more ability than the label puts on them,” DeAnn Hunt said.

Their hard work was signed into law last Wednesday.

“Yes he did. He signed a bill and he did give me a pen,” Al Hunt said.

A victory not only for their son but others across the state.

“We are hoping that it helps them change their mindset and their perception of our kids and that they start using the different terminology and we leave the mentally retarded by the wayside,” DeAnn Hunt.

Al was recognized for his hard work and got to met members of the Arkansas Senate.

Sunday, the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association will have family day at the Little Rock Zoo.

It’s free for people with down syndrome and their families.

There will be free rides, food, and drinks.

It’s from 10 am to 2 pm.

Over 300 people from across the state are going to be there.

Al encourages everyone to relax and have fun.

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