Easter Seals Oklahoma was formed on September 24, 1925 as the Oklahoma Society for Crippled Children, Inc. Mr. Earle F. Bridges became the first President of the organization. He was also the Chairman of the Crippled Children’s Committee of the Oklahoma City Rotary Club, which initiated the formation of the organization.
In 1984, the Oklahoma Easter Seal Agency was officially incorporated and a few years later, the name was officially changed to the Oklahoma Easter Seal Society and was also known by the registered symbol, the Easter lily.
Background of the lily and stamps: “In the spring of 1934, the National organization launched its first Easter “seals” campaign to raise money for its services. To show their support, donors placed the seals on envelopes and letters. Cleveland Plain Dealer cartoonist J.H. Donahey designed the first seal. Donahey based the design on a concept of simplicity because those served by the charity asked “simply for the right to live a normal life.” The lily – a symbol of spring – was officially incorporated as Easter Seals’ logo in 1952.”
In 2002, the Oklahoma Society for Crippled Children merged with the Oklahoma Easter Seal Society, and became known as Easter Seals Oklahoma, Inc.
Since 1925, Easter Seals Oklahoma has carried out many programs benefiting thousands of disabled children and adults as well as providing early intervention vision, hearing, scoliosis and speech screening services for school children, identifying problems before their educational progress was adversely affected. The programs have dramatically shifted and an awareness of who we are and what we do is often a challenge. Frequently, when addressing the community, we ask what the audience might know of Easter Seals Oklahoma and we often hear of polio, “crippled children,” and stamps. An antiquated perception of who we are.
In June of 1997, after conducting a statewide needs survey, Easter Seals Oklahoma held a strategic planning conference to map out the future of the organization. The group planned two new programs, an inclusive child development center and an adult day services program. On April 6, 2000 Easter Seals launched its adult day services program in the former building at 2100 N. W. 63rd Street; and in 2001, purchased a larger building on the campus of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, where an inclusive child development center was launched. Easter Seals Oklahoma is currently operating these two programs in addition to its therapy, screening and rehabilitation programs.
Our inclusive Child Development Program welcomes children of all abilities, ages 6 weeks through five years. We are a 3-star Center, the highest rating of DHS, member of the Oklahoma Child Care Association, and accredited by the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC). We offer developmentally appropriate learning activities and services to meet the unique needs of each child through stimulating and individualized activities. The Program uniquely includes on-site Medical Rehabilitation services, such as Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. In addition, the Program offers a Peer Integration Program and an intergenerational component through interaction and structured therapeutic activities with our Adult Day Center.
The Adult Day Center, designated as a Center of Excellence by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offers assistance caring for a loved one who is aging or has a disability or chronic illness and can help prevent or postpone moving a loved one to nursing home care. Adult day services also make it possible for caregivers to provide care while meeting the demands of their jobs and families. Our services are medically-based and offer various levels of care based on the individual needs. A medical professional from our staff meets with participants and their families to determine the level of care required. Our program uses individual plans of care to provide a variety of health, social, recreational and therapeutic activities. In addition, the center provides supervision, support services and, in some cases, personal care. The program is open to eligible applicants ages 21 and up.
Medical rehabilitation offers people with disabilities the opportunity to live up to their physical potential, achieve independence and participate in their communities. The Speech/Language Program utilizes licensed Speech Language Pathologists who conduct screenings, evaluations, and provide therapy. We offer free screenings for public schools, child development centers, child care facilities, and children from our community. The Medical Rehabilitation program also includes Physical and Occupational therapy consultations, behavioral support plans, and autism screenings through a partnership with the Lee Mitchener Tolbert Center.
In addition, Easter Seals Oklahoma includes Direct Services, which is direct financial assistance for purchase of medical and/or educational supplies and/or equipment for children with all types of disabilities. Children must be from economically eligible families and ranging in age from infant to 18 years. This includes assistance with mobility assistance such as wheelchairs, walkers, prosthetic devices; medical, vision, and hearing evaluations; therapeutic listening equipment and sensory processing equipment; medications and other supplies.