“We strive to build a better world for tomorrow—today. ” This is one of the missions of United Cerebral Palsy, a non-profit organization that helps people with cerebral palsy and other related disabilities. It is committed to bring out change and foster hope for disabled people. It is a national organization that has tons of affiliates and is considered to be one of America’s largest health charitable organizations. Cerebral palsy is a serious disability that should not be neglected. It is “a collection of motor disorders caused by brain damage that happens before, during, or after birth. 2
A child with cerebral palsy has abnormalities in movement patterns and demonstrates poor balance and coordination. Still, a person who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy should never lose hope. This is because the disorder is not a progressive one. This means that it is static and does not go worse as time goes by. There are medical treatments being given by experts to manage cerebral palsy and achieve maximum potential in growth and development. “Cerebral” pertains to the brain, and “palsy” means muscle weakness or poor control. 3 It is a disease which is not merely caused by malfunctioning of nerves or muscles.
However, it can also result in muscle spasticity which may grow, worsen, or stay unchanged. Although it is a disease that cannot be cured, there are trainings and therapies that can help improve the functioning. 4 Through dedicated organizations such as the United Cerebral Palsy, these trainings, therapies, and additional services can be provided to patients who are afflicted with this disability, improving their lives as a result. United Cerebral Palsy was founded in the 1940’s during the time when people with cerebral palsy do not see a ray of hope to change their conditions.
The said organization stressed that “there were not many options for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities and their families. ”5 Most cases of cerebral palsy among families opted to confine the patient to institutions separated from the rest of the society. Parents of children with cerebral palsy who decided to keep their child inside their homes suffered from isolation, helplessness, and frustration. They had to endure this suffering until the year 1948, when the fate of cerebral palsy patients was changed through the aid of two New York families.
Leonald Goldenson, the president of United Paramount Theater and ABC Television, together with his wife Isabelle, coordinated with Jack Hausman a prominent New York businessman and his wife Ethel. The two couples were blessed with children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The two families decided that they need to take action in order to improve their children’s quality of life. They made it possible by posting an ad in the New York Herald Tribune to encourage families who wanted change for their family members with cerebral palsy.
The ad was received warmly by “hundreds of early parents of children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. ” Upon seeing the ad, they immediately responded it and decided to get actively involved in the crusade that the Goldensons and Hausmans started. 7 Hence, the National Foundation for Cerebral Palsy was founded. Around 12,000 people from various parts of the “United States, Canada, Europe, and South America” gathered to participate in the first ever Cerebral Palsy Conference.
From its first name, it was changed to United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and was recognized as a national organization in 1949. After that, many affiliates of UCP were established across America. The organization’s cause increased the public’s awareness on the truth behind cerebral palsy and what the organization can offer to families and people who are confronted by problems regarding developmental disabilities. UCP also caught the media’s attention, making the organization more known to many people. UCP is also composed of highly acclaimed people from the entertainment and political arena.
This is an organization with a cause that used various means of letting the public know how it can support and be part of the fight to improve the lives of cerebral palsy patients. There were films that are produced to raise funds for the organization which starred famous celebrities such as John Wayne, Gene Kelly, Henry Fonda and Danny Thomas. 10 From such films, not only the public’s awareness about cerebral palsy was increased, the funding needed to support the movement was obtained as well. Marie Kilillea, one of UCP’s volunteer, wrote a novel entitled Karen which became a best seller in 1952 and has never been out of print ever since.
Public school students of that time were required to read the novel in order to know more about cerebral palsy. The organization even managed to launch its first ever telethon entitled Celebrity Parade which discussed everything about cerebral palsy. The said program was aired for 15 hours and was able to raise funds summing up to a total of $972,106. 12 UCP faced several changes and challenges since the year it was founded until the present. It continuously brings hope to the disabled and encourages families to support each other and cooperate with the mission of UCP.
In 1990, “UCP was a major leader in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act which, for the first time, extends basic civil rights protections to persons with disabilities in the areas of employment, transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications”13. The organization’s website was launched in 1994, making it accessible for people all over the world. An award from the American Society of Association Executive’s prestigious Summit Award for its ADA Report Card on America and its impact on improving the lives of people with disabilities nationwide was also given to UCP, which brought more honor to the organization.
For the succeeding years, television events, educational campaigns, and other public service announcements were made to popularize the organization and its mission. At present, UCP is now on its 58th year of service to the people with cerebral palsy and to the people who give their undying support to the patients. The United Cerebral Palsy mission statement is to “advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network”14.
The affiliates of UCP provide financial support to the organization, which is the primary source of the organizations’ funds. The financial statement of the organization can be accessed on their website to let the public know its assets and liabilities. Through the help of its affiliates, UCP offers its helping hand daily to over 170,000 disabled children and adults with disabilities and their families. 15 There are fund raising activities done to accumulate financial resources to support the organization’s needs.
Aside from the money gathered from donors and members, there are also services including “housing, therapy, assistive technology training, early intervention programs, individual and family support, social and recreation programs, community living, state and local referrals, employment assistance and advocacy” given out to cerebral palsy patients and their families. 16 Interview Upon interviewing one of the staff members of UCP (whose name does not want to be mentioned), I was able to gain more knowledge of how the organization works and adheres to its mission.
He confidently answered all of my questions about UCP and how people’s involvement is vital for the organization to achieve its goals. Without their help, the organization could not have lasted for many years. He is proud to say that UCP survived 58 years of service to people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. It has inspired their families by helping them to accept the condition of their family member and by providing them the support and attention that they need. The USP does not stand today as it is because of the funds gathered and the services that were given.
The dedication and commitment of each member, affiliate, and staff make UCP fulfills its mission. Because of organizations like USP, people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities can have a taste of normal life by creating a better and normal world for the patients. Conclusion In the case of United Cerebral Palsy, I can say that it is an organization with a heart. It aims to end the feeling of isolation and depression by people who suffer from cerebral palsy, as well as their families.
It was founded to ease the burden carried by families who were separated from their family members with cerebral palsy. Through organizations such as UCP, the person with cerebral palsy can also achieve development without moving out of their homes and entering institutions. It is inspiring to know that there are people united by one mission to give a brighter future for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, as these people are often pitied, mocked, and bullied. Indeed, USP is an organization that is founded with love, devotion and care.
Courtney from Study Moose
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