We began in 1920 with a mission to help children, many with polio and other childhood disabilities of the time, many who had been sheltered away most of their lives, or since becoming disabled. Many had not gone to school - or had been asked not to come once disabled. Most had not received proper health care. We played an important role as part of an innovative movement to help these children get what they needed. We became a “home” for these kids, helping them to heal and live with their disabilities. Because polio and similar “long rehabilitation” disabilities required lengthy stays, we had a 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. We sold our hospital in 1963 to focus on our educational component and the youngest citizens with disabilities.
We became a pre-school and kindergarten for children with disabilities, offering educational support and therapies in a safe and inclusive space until the mid-1970’s, when education laws changed, allowing these kids to go to regular public schools. Again we evolved to meet the needs of Toledo and northwest Ohio, becoming a service agency for people of all ages and disabilities.
In 1989, during the push for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we became a Center for Independent Living, run by and for people with disabilities. Today, we help people of all ages in many ways, including the sharing of information to make lives easier and safer, providing ramps and home modifications for those in need, advocating for better laws and accessible communities, and training assistance dogs to become life partners for individuals and schools who can benefit from such support.
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.