History: The 1940's
In the 1940s, there were not many options for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities and their families. Faced with fear and a lack of understanding by both the medical community and the general public, people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities were relegated to second class status. Medical professionals frequently urged parents to warehouse their children in institutions where they lived out their lives, segregated from the rest of society.
Parents who raised their children at home learned that few services and supports were available to help their kids lead full, productive lives in the community. With little contact between families of children with cerebral palsy, many parents felt isolated, helpless and alone.
But in 1948, two New York families decided to change all that.
Leonard Goldenson, then President of United Paramount Theaters and ABC Television, and his wife, Isabelle, joined forces with prominent New York businessman Jack Hausman, and his wife, Ethel, to improve the quality of life for their children with cerebral palsy and others like them. The two families placed an ad in the New York Herald Tribune to recruit families interested in improving available services to children with disabilities so that families could stay together, and people with disabilities could be part of the community.
Hundreds of parents of children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities responded to the ad and joined the Goldensons and Hausmans in their crusade. It was from this humble, grassroots beginning that United Cerebral Palsy was born as a national organization in 1949. Several UCP affiliates opened across the country and the organization quickly established itself. UCP brought issues about cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities to the forefront of the national media.