The Consortium announces the premiere of a new video in its “Voices of Change” series. The video features an interview with Virginia Flavin Pribanic and Carol Flavin Pursehouse, sisters of Danny Flavin, who lived for 56 years at Polk Center in Venango County.
Danny Flavin (1946-2018) was one of seven children in a large Irish American family in a Pittsburgh suburb. He was born with a genetic condition that resulted in intellectual disabilities. His childhood took place in a time when few services were available for children with disabilities. Nevertheless, the Flavins raised their son at home amid a loving family.
When Danny was 16 years old, his parents became concerned about aggressive behaviors that had become a risk to his safety and the safety of others. No support services were available to help the family keep Danny at home. His parents made the difficult decision to move him to Polk State School and Hospital (now Polk Center), a large institution with about 3,000 residents at that time.
Danny’s transition to Polk Center was hard on the entire family, but was especially difficult for his father, Frank, who doted on his son and worked with him tirelessly. In this interview, Danny’s sisters, Virginia and Carol, speak about their strong connection with their brother, the care he received at Polk, and their support of state centers for people with significant disabilities. Polk Center, which remains open today with just over 100 residents, is moving toward closure.
Previous videos in the “Voices of Change” series include Kate Bayer, special education teacher, Polk State Center, early 1970s; the Life of Joe Benedum Trees; and the Story of Paul Dick, accessible transportation advocate.