United Cerebral Palsy:
Pioneers In Improving The Lives Of Others
By Alberto Cepeda
Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders such as that severely affects different parts of the human brain. The disorders are made up of Ataxia, Athetoid, Spasticity or a combination of the three, attacks different aspects of a person’s motor skills. These disorders rob people of the ability to do the simplest tasks such as speaking, walking and being able to pick up or hold the smallest of items such as a coin.
For over 57 years, United Cerebral Palsy and its network of affiliates have been striving to improve the quality of life for people of all ages afflicted with Cerebral Palsy.
United Cerebral Palsy, one of the largest networks was founded in 1949 by Leonard Goldenson, the founder of ABC television and renowned New York City businessman and philanthropist Jack Hausman along with their wives Isabelle Goldenson and Ethel Hausman. Both families were not strangers to the disorders as their children Genise Goldenson and Jack Hausman were born with cerebral palsy. Each family’s objective was to create a national organization where parents who had children with cerebral palsy could join in unison to create a support system and build better awareness of the disorder by raising money for research and bringing UCP and its mission to the national forefront.
Before UCP was founded, little was known about cerebral palsy among the medical community. Care and treatment for the disorders were very inadequate. Doctors advised parents who had children with cerebral palsy to place them in isolated institutions.
Since the founding of UCP, millions of dollars have been raised for research in the treatment and prevention of cerebral palsy. UCP has also made tremendous strides within the medical and political communities throughout the years.
In 1971, a vaccine was created for the rubella virus which was responsible for over 20,000 cases of cerebral palsy. UCP also pushed for states to pass laws to improve access to assistive technology and provide services for people with cerebral palsy.
In 1990, in large part due to the efforts of UCP, then President George H.W Bush passed the American with Disabilities Act which ensures that people with disabilities are provided with the most fundamental of civil rights.
With over 100 affiliates in 39 states as well as affiliates in foreign countries such as Canada and Australia, UCP continues to provide over 170,000 people with cerebral palsy opportunities in education such as computer training classes, First Aid and CPR classes, sign language classes individual program plans and activities as well as other special services such as, “physical therapy, occupational therapy, behavior management, speech therapy, assistive technology, adaptive therapy, nutritional services, psychology, nursing, social work, and other such specialty services as described in the Individual Program Plan.” according to a UCP spokesman.
There is still work to be done for the cerebral palsy population and people with disabilities in the United States.
According to UCP, “The United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation, Cerebral Palsy receives 22 million dollars from the NIH; this is disproportionately low when the relative incidence and prevalence of CP is compared to other conditions with much higher funding and far fewer people affected.” Now, fifty eight years after its inception, United Cerebral Palsy has shown a unique and unwavering loyalty in providing people with disabilities the services they need.#
Alberto Cepeda is an intern at Education Update and a CCNY student.