UCP Central PA: 60 Years of Life without Limits

For sixty years, UCP has promoted a vision for the community of a life without limits for people of all abilities.


Our History

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 cerebral palsy. The clinic changed names and locations over the years and the scope of the mission expanded to serve children with all types of disabilities. Later, a comprehensive array of services for adults with disabilities was added, as was the creation of the assistive technology department. The organization underwent another name change and has been operating since 2000 as UCP Central PA. What began as a therapeutic service for children with cerebral palsy has evolved significantly 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.

Who We Serve

Despite what our name may seem to imply, cerebral palsy is just one of more than 80 conditions and diagnoses for which UCP provides services and supports. 

Whether someone was born with a disability, acquired a disability through illness or injury, or is simply aging into disability, UCP serves as a lifeline for thousands of individuals, and the family members who care for them, throughout Central PA.  A listing of the most prevalent diagnoses or conditions of the people who benefited from our services over the past year includes:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Speech and language delay
  •  Diabetes
  • Developmental delay
  •  Stroke
  • Premature birth
  •  Down syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Autism 
  • Multiple Sclerosis 
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia 

What We Do

UCP is now a $25 million service organization offering a network of services across the lifespan for a community of people with special needs. We currently operate from 30+ facilities in 16 Central Pennsylvania counties, providing both community and center-based programs and services, including:

  • childhood programs and early intervention therapies
  • adult day programs
  • residential living (community homes and an apartment program) 
  • community support services (school-age transition, supported employment, in-home care, nursing home transition, and more)
  • disability advocacy at the local, state,  and national levels

What We Really Do

As you can see, today’s UCP offers a full range of programs and services for individuals of all ages with all types of disabilities. But that’s not all we do. 

We also offer such intangibles as:

In other words, we offer life without limits for people whose lives have all too often been constrained by limitations.  That is the message at the heart of the UCP/SchmidtKramer Expressions Contest.