Who We Are banner graphic

History

The Story of Easterseals Central Illinois

In 1919 Dr. Hugh Cooper, M.D. and Dr. S.H. Easton, M.D. started the 'Crippled Childrens Clinic' in downtown Peoria. This once-a-week clinic provided necessary medical attention to children in the area with disabilities. With the help of the 'Crippled Childrens Coordianting Committee' the mission grew to include championing education, recreation and therapy services for children with Developmental Dealys and Disabilties in Central Illinois. Today we serve nearly 6,000 families at our 4 locations 

The Story of Easterseals Nationally

Client and therapist coloring

As America’s largest nonprofit health care organization, Easterseals is committed to the comprehensive health and wellness of the more than 1.4 million people it serves each year and is prepared to respond to the needs of the one in four Americans living with disability today with outcomes-based services for all disabilities throughout the lifespan. 

Among our services:  early intervention, inclusive childcare, medical rehabilitation and autism services for young children and their families; job training and coaching, employment placement and transportation services for adults with disabilities, including veterans; adult day services and employment opportunities for older adults – in addition to a variety of additional services for people of all ages including mental health and recovery programs, assistive technology, camp and recreation, caregiving support including respite – and much more. 

Additionally, we’ve served transitioning military, veterans and their families and caregivers since WWII and continue to be the “go to” resource for them to help ensure their successful transition to civilian life.  

Easterseals founder Edgar Allen

Tragedy Leads to Inspiration

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 to make a difference, in 1919 Allen founded the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind.

The Birth of the Seal

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 the National Society for Crippled Children’s logo in 1952 for its association with new life and new beginnings.

Expansion of the organization

In 1945, we expanded our vision across the country and in communities nationwide when we opened our services to adults and returning WWII veterans.

Easterseals seals
Easterseals Emerges

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 "Easter Seals."

Poster that says
Americans with Disabilities Act

Prior to the passing of the ADA on July 26, 1990, Easterseals was a leading advocate for the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and actively lobbied in Washington and across the country for its adoption.  Easterseals also created some of the most powerful advocacy pro-ADA public service campaign with messages to support the law and its implementation. After the passing of the ADA, Easterseals worked tirelessly to ensure that all people are empowered to access their rights under the ADA. Read more about Easterseals history with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software