We began in 1920 with a mission to help children. Many of the children with disabilities at this were not welcomed in mainstream schools. Most also had not received proper health care. We played an important role as part of an innovative movement to help children get what they needed. Our agency became a home for these kids, supporting and encouraging them to remove social barriers caused by their disability. Because polio and similar disabilities required lengthy stays, we housed school in our hospital. We served thousands of young people in our hospitals until the late 1950’s, when the Salk Polio vaccine greatly impacted our need. Our hospital was in 1963 and our focus on shifted to education.
Our organization transformed into a preschool and kindergarten for children with disabilities, offering an inclusive education until the mid-1970’s At this time, schools began welcoming students off all abilities in mainstream schools. In response to this change, we evolved into a service agency for people of all ages and disabilities. During the push for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we became a Center for Independent Living, as changed to our current name, The Ability Center.
Today, we empower people of all ages and all abilities through core services focused on consumer choice and increased independence. As we begin our second century, we continue to grow and develop, addressing the needs of the 21st Century. We invite local businesses leaders and community members to engage with us and help us get closer to our goal of becoming the most disability-friendly community in the region.
As we begin our second century, we will continue to grow and evolve, addressing the 21st Century needs of the area’s people with disabilities and the communities which serve them.