In December 1953, a devoted group of parents, led by John P. Kessler, Sr., whose son had cerebral palsy, came together to forge a better life for their children with CP. The group sought to make significant changes in the public perception of children with disabilities, while striving to improve their quality of life. Their efforts led them to form a therapy clinic for children with CP at Polyclinic Hospital in Harrisburg. The clinic eventually became the CP Center; it relocated to Market Street in Camp Hill in 1955. There the staff provided a classroom program and therapies for children with CP.
In the 1960s, the CP Center became United Cerebral Palsy of the Capital Area and the scope of the mission expanded to serve children with all types of disabilities. An array of services for adults was added during the 1980s and 1990s, as was the creation of the assistive technology department. In August 2000, the name was legally changed to United Cerebral Palsy of Central Pennsylvania, Inc., or UCP Central PA. What began as a therapeutic service for children with cerebral palsy has evolved over the past 60 years. But the organization has remained true to the Kessler family’s original purpose: to forge a better life for those with special needs.
Began providing therapy services for children; started volunteer-run child care center; implemented community-supported youth program.
Seventy-five percent of the operating budget comes from the United Fund (currently known as the United Way); started a Courage Club day program for adults with disabilities.
Provided services to more than 100 children and adults with disabilities; established the only federally funded child care center for children with disabilities in Central PA; received an award for sustained performance, breadth, and growth of service from the state affiliate, UCP of PA.
Provided center-based Early Intervention (therapy) services; established Adult Day Programs in three counties and opened three Community Homes in Cumberland County; implemented the Assistive Technology Program; began coordination of in-home supports to help people with disabilities remain in their home and local community; $300,000 in revenue, 40 staff, 120 consumers (1983).
Opened the Capital Area Children’s Center to enhance our ability to provide Early Intervention, child care and preschool services; implemented Family Support Services and the Summer Recreation Program; $2 million in revenue, 99 staff, 810 consumers (1993).
Provided 11 Adult Day Programs throughout five counties; expanded philosophy of Adult Day Programs to include concept of a neighborhood focus; opened Hope Springs Farm; in 2006, established the UCP Foundation of Central PA, a 501 (c)3 nonprofit foundation and Type 2 supporting organization of UCP Central PA; $16 million in revenue, 480 staff, 2,400+ consumers (2007).