After the establishment of UCP National in 1949, a small but dedicated group of parents formed UCP of Central Arizona in 1952. Their goal: to change Arizona’s perception and treatment of people with cerebral palsy, to create an understanding and accepting society in which their children could lead healthy, productive lives.
It wasn’t long before these parents realized that cerebral palsy wasn’t the only disability facing obstacles. UCP of Central Arizona soon expanded their scope to include disabilities of all types. With autism, sensory processing disorders, genetic disorders, orthopedic disabilities, and many more now under their umbrella, UCP of Central Arizona worked in homes across the state to provide the care and support that would raise the quality of life for children with disabilities.
As our dedicated therapists and health professionals supplied their expertise to struggling families, the nation experienced a radical shift in the treatment of people with disabilities. The 1960s and ‘70s saw a veritable civil rights movement for the disability community; the 1965 Title XIX amendment to the Social Security Act provided financial aid to people with disabilities and their families; The 1970 Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Amendments gave the first legal definition of developmental disabilities, and offered grants for services and facilities that could help those with developmental disabilities; The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made it illegal for any federal or public institutions receiving federal funds to discriminate on the basis of disability. Legislation protecting people with disabilities continued to snowball, culminating in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Arizona made its own strides, too. The 1970 Senate Bill 1057 made it illegal to confine non-dangerous residents to State hospitals against their will. People with intellectual disabilities would no longer be forcefully confined to institutions built for the mentally ill, and residency fell from over 2,000 people to 300 in a few short months. The Arizona Long Term Care System was created in 1988 to provide care for adults with physical and intellectual disabilities, among many other developments.
The obstacles that had once faced those with disabilities were being broken down, creating a whole new set of hurdles to be conquered. The facility that housed UCP of Central Arizona in the later part of the last century was a storefront location in a two-story strip mall near Central and Hatcher. The next-door neighbor was a liquor store and physical therapy was provided on the small hill behind the building that could have used a “do not litter” sign. It was small. And tight. The occupational therapy room was about the size of a large living room with three dividers, making spaces for three different therapists to work at one time. As children and adults with disabilities began to realize that they were valued in our society like never before and services became more and more available, the cramped quarters of UCP were pushed to their limits. But, the most overwhelming thing about those days wasn’t the limited facilities or long, hard days – it was the feeling of passion and commitment for the purpose among the staff and the positive strides made every time an obstacle was removed in the life of another.
Adaptive Teachnology Equipment for People with Disabilities, 1997
Groundbreaking of New UCP Center, 2002
70 YEARS OF PROGRESS: AN ORIGIN OF UCP
Today, UCP of Central Arizona is one of the state’s oldest and most valuable non-profits, serving almost 3,000 members across a broad range of disabilities and delays. But that didn’t happen overnight. People with disabilities have fought a long and arduous battle for equality and respect over decades, even centuries.
America, 1948. Across the country, across the world, people treat those with disabilities as second-class citizens. The average person lacks any understanding of disabilities, and as it so often does, that lack of understanding ferments into fear and prejudice. Desperate for help, parents confine their children with disabilities to draconian institutions, depriving them of social interaction and personal development. Far from helping, this only fuels the perception that people with disabilities are not capable of enjoying rich, full lives. A new “science”, called Eugenics, tells the world that only the physically strong are fit to survive. Much of society listens.
Still, many parents across the world choose love over fear and commit themselves to providing the best possible life for their child. But without resources, services, or the support of other families and health professionals, it feels like climbing a glacier in the dark. Parents feel isolated. Helpless. Alone.
No one is immune, not even the powerful. Enter two prominent New York couples, Leonard and Isabelle Goldenson & Jack and Ethel Hausman, who both want to give their own children with cerebral palsy — and others like them — the brightest future they can. But like so many others, they don’t know how. Together they take out an advertisement in New York Herald Tribune, calling out to families like them, families that want to improve the services for people with disabilities, families that refuse to watch their loved ones be relegated to the fringes of society.
The response is immediate and overwhelming. Hundreds of letters pour into the Goldenson’s and Hausman’s from parents across the nation, all searching for a community powerful enough to change the country’s misperception of disability. And so, in 1949, UCP National was born, committed to improving the well-being of people everywhere and bringing disabilities into the spotlight. Only this time, it would be on their terms.
UCP affiliates sprang up around the country, and in 1952 a group of Phoenix parents founded an Arizona affiliate known as UCP of Central Arizona. Over the last 68 years and with the help of some amazing families, staff, partner organizations, and our generous donors, UCP of Central Arizona has helped thousands of Arizona members and their families on their journey to a life without limits.
The Goldenson’s and Hausman’s legacy of committed and caring parents going to any length to provide for their family is continued to this day. UCP National works tirelessly on issues from homeownership to health care reform, inclusive education to competitive employment, and so much more. As long as there are people with disabilities, UCP will be there every step of the way, helping them thrive on their journey. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Goldeson and Hausman, circa 1968
Isabelle Goldenson and Dick Clark at the UCP Telethon, circa 1958