The Story of Easterseals

Easterseals Iowa has been supporting individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, to live independent lives for more than 90 years. From our integrated child development center to assistive technology and job training for people with disabilities, Easterseals Iowa offers a variety of services to support people with disabilities as they address life's challenges and achieve personal goals.

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 by this discovery, in 1919 Allen founded what became known as the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind. The Iowa Society was established in 1926.

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 Easterseals' logo in 1952 for its association with resurrection and new life and has appeared on each seal since.

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."

Easterseals Today

Easterseals Iowa provides exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. We provide a wide range of support for children and adults with disabilities to promote independence and opportunities throughout their lives.

Primary Easterseals Iowa services include:

Americans With Disabilities Act

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.

At the core of the Easterseals organization is a common passion for caring, shared by staff, volunteers and those who support our mission. This heart-felt commitment to supporting people with disabilities and their families is what Easterseals is all about.


CARF (The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) is an accreditation organization that provides a framework for continuous quality improvement. Easterseals Iowa is accredited for Life Club, Respite, Clients Socially Integrated (CSI), Supported Education, Case Management, Hourly Supported Community Living, 24-Hour Supported Community Living, Supported Employment, Project SEARCH, TEAM and EmployAbility. Easterseals Iowa has received a 3-year accreditation, the highest level possible.

Easterseals Iowa Camp Sunnyside is accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA). All programs are available to individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

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