Creating a Life Without Limits for People With Disabilities
By Sarah Ford on October 6, 2015
What do YOU know about UCP?
UCP stands for "United Cerebral Palsy," but Cerebral Palsy isn't the only focus of UCP's work. They are a network of affiliated nonprofit organizations working to ensure a Life without Limits™ for both children and adults with a broad range of disabilities and their families.
In this part of our Shape the Future blog series, UCP discusses their work and what kind of impact they're having.
Tell Us More About The UCP Network.
UCP’s nearly 80 affiliated organizations range from large providers like Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota, to smaller but no less impactful organizations from New England to California. Our affiliates’ influence can be felt as far away as Canada and Australia.
Each organization acts independently to provide the advocacy, support and services needed in their communities. Many have programs in place to address direct needs for therapy, housing, transportation, employment and family support. Many spend time advocating for public policy changes at the local, state and even national level. Many work to raise awareness of the issues facing people with disabilities and their families, and all work to secure the necessary resources to carry out UCP’s mission.
Who, Exactly, Do You Serve?
UCP is proud to serve people with a range of disabilities, their families, and by extension their communities. Sometimes, you will hear that 65% of the people served by UCP affiliates have disabilities in addition to, or other than, cerebral palsy. While percentages vary by affiliate and can change over the years, the truth is that UCP places a priority on serving people in need, regardless of diagnosis. UCP providers typically serve people with the most severe and multiple disabilities. At the national level, UCP advocates for change in public policy. And, we work to raise awareness of the major issues common to many people with disabilities: access, resources, support and respect. At the local level, UCP affiliates work hard to provide the supports and services most needed in their communities. Their capacity to serve is only bound by the resources they have available.
If You Serve People with All Disabilities, Why Are You Called United Cerebral Palsy?
We are proud of our heritage. United Cerebral Palsy’s name has a long history, going back to 1949. In the 1940s, there were not many options for families of and people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. What began as the brainstorm of a few parents of children with cerebral palsy quickly grew in to a nationwide crusade to improve the lives of people with all disabilities. From it’s inception, UCP brought issues about cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities to the forefront of the national media.
While the words “United Cerebral Palsy” do not fully express the scope of our work, UCP has served as a trusted name for millions of people for more than 60 years. As with many iconic brands, which have grown and evolved over time, the true heart of our identity lies in the associations people make when they hear our name, not in the name itself.
Why Don’t You Just Focus on Cerebral Palsy?
Because more than 176,000 people rely on UCP every day. If we can advocate for a public policy that provides access to more affordable housing options for with disabilities, should we apply that policy only to people with CP? If we can encourage respect for all people, should we only try to put an end to bullying against children with CP? If we can inspire an innovator to design a device that is more accessible, should we insist that only people with CP be able to use it? United Cerebral Palsy works hard to help individuals overcome barriers to a Life Without Limits™, and we have found that sometimes the biggest barriers of all are the ones that come with assigning labels and defining limits.
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Our thanks to UCP for sharing their mission and impact with us. You can learn more about their work by visiting their website at www.ucp.org. To support their efforts, please donate to UCP through your company's workplace giving program (CFC #88763 if you're a Federal employee participating in the Combined Federal Campaign).
If your company would like to start a workplace giving program to support nonprofits like UCP, click here.