Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for more than 80 years. Whether helping someone improve physical mobility, return to work or simply gain greater independence for everyday living, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities 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 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 Easter Seals' logo in 1952 for its association with resurrection and new life and has appeared on each seal since.
Easter Seals 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."
Easter Seals Today
Easterseals' cause and purpose is to support and strengthen families living with a disability in our community and we do that across many programs, locations and populations. Whether we are helping a young family to overcome the challenges of raising a child with a disability or helping a family struggling to avoid the devastation of a nursing home placement for their loved one with Alzheimer's disease, Easterseals is an indispensable resource for more than 1,500 families here in South Florida.
In 2016 our special education school in Allapattah served approximately 325 children ages birth to 22 years old with Autism Spectrum disorder and other developmental delays and disabilities. Our Adult Day Care centers offer working caregivers an alternative to nursing home placements for their loved ones by providing specialized day care for seniors through all stages of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. In addition, we provide in-home respite services for families of frail elders and family members of military veterans. In total, we served 450 families through these aging services programs. In addition, we served more than 550 families living in impoverished communities, through our six Head Start Centers, providing high quality early childhood education and family support services which leads to family self-sufficiency and is focused on: nutrition, health, employment, family as advocates, transportation, mental health and financial stability.
In 2017, Easterseals celebrates 75 years of serving families here in South Florida.
Primary Easter Seals services include:
Speech and Hearing Therapy
Job Training and Employment
Adult Day Services
Camping and Recreation
Easter Seals 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 Easter Seals organization is a common passion for caring, shared by its 13,000 staff members and thousands of volunteers, and by those who support its mission. This heart-felt commitment to helping people with disabilities and their families is what Easter Seals is all about.