SPARC received exceptional news coverage on Channel 4. Click on the link above to learn about the support we have received from the State of Virginia and Fairfax County.

SPARC should be replicated throughout the state and across the country.

The support for SPARC from the State of Virginia and Fairfax County is a significant development. Here’s what it means for SPARC:

  • Stability and Sustainability: The state funding has allowed SPARC to hire two full-time employees, a Program Director and a Site Lead. This addition to the staff is expected to bring stability to SPARC’s program and reduce staff turnover, ensuring the program’s longevity.
  • Enhanced Curriculum: The new employees come with exceptional credentials allowing them to supervise interns, thereby enhancing the quality and scope of the programs.
  • Program Support: The county funds, earmarked for purchasing equipment and supplies, will add state-of-the-art tools to help our populations.
  • Recognition and Expansion: Senator Janet Howell’s sponsorship of the state budget amendment and her recognition of SPARC’s vital work underscore the importance of the services provided. Her vision to replicate SPARC throughout the state, and potentially nationwide, speaks to the potential impact and growth of the organization.

This financial and governmental backing is a testament to the value SPARC provides to the community and sets a foundation for future expansion and replication of its successful model.

We are committed to securing the funding so that every person with severe and multiple disabilities who cannot work are able to choose SPARC. It is a question of social justice. No human being should experience social isolation and every person deserves an engaging day in the community. As the U.S. Surgeon General has stated,

“Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. “Given the significant health consequences of loneliness and isolation, we must prioritize building social connection the same way we have prioritized other critical public health issues such as tobacco, obesity, and substance use disorders. Together, we can build a country that’s healthier, more resilient, less lonely, and more connected.”

In a May 3, 2023 Advisory, the Office of the United States Surgeon General explained:

The physical health consequences of poor or insufficient connection include a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. Additionally, lacking social connection increases risk of premature death by more than 60%.

In addition to our physical health, loneliness and isolation contribute substantially to mental health challenges. In adults, the risk of developing depression among people who report feeling lonely often is more than double that of people who rarely or never feel lonely. Loneliness and social isolation in childhood increase the risk of depression and anxiety both immediately and well into the future. And with more than one in five adults and more than one in three young adults living with a mental illness in the U.S., addressing loneliness and isolation is critical in order to fully address the mental health crisis in America.

While the epidemic of loneliness and isolation is widespread and has profound consequences for our individual and collective health and well-being, there is a medicine hiding in plain sight: social connection.

Social connection is beneficial for individual health and also improves the resilience of our communities. Evidence shows that increased connection can help reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, and depression. Communities where residents are more connected with one another fare better on several measures of population health, community safety, community resilience when natural disasters strike, prosperity, and civic engagement.

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