Since January 8th, 1948, Easterseals New Jersey has worked to meet the continuously growing needs of people with disabilities and the families who love them here in New Jersey.
The Easterseals New Jersey purpose is to change the way the world defines and views disabilities by making profound, positive differences in people’s lives. With the help of our supporters we are “taking on disability together” and working to enrich the lives of people living with disabilities and special needs by providing opportunities to live, learn, work, and play in their communities!
Annually, over 9,000 people in New Jersey with developmental disabilities including autism, physical disabilities, mental illness and other special needs receive services in our programs designed to help them work toward achieving independence and full community-integration.
In 1907, Ohio-businessman Edgar Allen lost his son in a streetcar accident. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. Through this new hospital, Allen was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired by this discovery, in 1919 Allen founded what became known as the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind.
In the spring of 1934, the organization launched its first Easter "seals" campaign to raise money for its services. To show their support, donors placed the seals on envelopes and letters. Cleveland Plain Dealer cartoonist J.H. Donahey designed the first seal. Donahey based the design on a concept of simplicity because those served by the charity asked "simply for the right to live a normal life."
The lily - a symbol of spring - was officially incorporated as Easterseals' logo in 1952 for its association with resurrection and new life and has appeared on each seal since.
The overwhelming public support for the Easter "seals" campaign triggered a nationwide expansion of the organization and a swell of grassroots efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. By 1967, the Easter "seal" was so well recognized, the organization formally adopted the name "Easterseals."
Easterseals offers help, hope, and answers to more than a million children and adults living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other disabilities or special needs and their families each year. Services and support are provided through a network of more than 550 sites in the U.S. and through Ability First Australia. Each center provides exceptional disability services in NJ that are individualized, innovative, family-focused and tailored to meet specific needs of the particular community served. At the core of the Easterseals organization is a common passion for caring, shared by its 23,000 staff members and thousands of volunteers, and by those who support its mission. This heartfelt commitment to helping people with disabilities and their families is what Easterseals is all about.
Easterseals also advocates for the passage of legislation to help people with disabilities achieve independence, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in 1990, the ADA prohibits discrimination against anyone who has a mental or physical disability, guaranteeing the civil rights of people with disabilities. Easterseals leadership was present at the signing of the ADA by George Herbert Walker Bush at the White House.