From a simple dream, to a life-changing reality.
Once upon a time, a child with cerebral palsy needed help to walk, talk and learn, tasks that are easy to many of us. Soon, more children needed help. Wanting to offer hope to these children with special needs, a group of parents in Central Florida got together and began to dream.
Like many great stories, the story of UCP of Central Florida began with a simple goal: offering hope to children, particularly those with cerebral palsy. Discovering that very few options outside of institutions existed, this group of parents began a small program. In a remodeled house on Colonial Drive, this program provided an early intervention classroom and therapy services. The dream of offering hope to children began to take shape. More importantly, it started to grow.
In 1980, thanks to the generosity of Jack Holloway (founder of ABC Fine Wine and Spirits) and some of his friends, UCP moved to a larger facility on South Orange Avenue in Downtown Orlando. UCP needed more space, and because there was a decrease in the number of incidences of cerebral palsy and an increase in others, children with other types of disabilities and developmental delays, including Down syndrome, autism, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, speech and hearing delays also needed help.
In the 1990’s, to meet the growing needs of the community, UCP opened campuses in East Orange County, Winter Garden, Lake Mary and Kissimmee. In 1999, the community helped UCP raise money through a capital campaign to build and furnish a 20,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art children’s center which was designed pro bono by the architect firm SCHENKELSHULTZ. To honor the contributions of Jack Holloway it was named the Holloway Center.
In addition to opening more campuses, UCP opened its educational programs to children without disabilities. This inclusion model creates an open society where children of all abilities learn, play and socialize without limitations or fear of being excluded. Because of the uniqueness and quality of UCP’s programs, families began seeing UCP as an alternative for their child.
During this time, UCP opened campuses in Pine Hills and a new state-of-the-art campus in Central Florida Research Park. This campus was named the Bailes Campus after the family of Jackie and Charlie Bailes for their dedication to helping improve the lives of UCP students and families. Designed in partnership with the University of Central Florida, this campus expanded its charter school to fifth grade and integrates technology and the arts into their daily lesson plans.
In addition, UCP relocated its West Orange campus to a new 10,000 square-foot renovated building in Winter Garden. The campus sports a brand new playground thanks to KaBoom! and Foresters. In addition, the new space allows the campus to serve up to 3rd grade. A brand new therapy gym allows for more families and their children to benefit from the expert physical, speech and occupational therapists available at UCP.
A dream that continues to inspire.
Today, UCP provides the best support, education and therapy for children with and without disabilities. Unlike similar organizations, UCP provides a comprehensive SET of services — Support, Education and Therapy — to more than 3,000 children, teenagers and young adults. Services are provided at seven locations throughout Central Florida: Downtown Orlando, Lake Mary, East Orange, West Orange, Pine Hills, and Kissimmee, as well as in their home and at local community centers.
The UCP story has provided happy endings to tens of thousands of children and their families; however, it will never be over. Like the way a candle lights many others, the hope of one child enlightens the community, inspiring each of us to reach higher.
UCP of Central Florida is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit agency and is responsible for a three county service area, including Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties. We are an affiliate of UCP National; however we are independently owned and operated with all funds raised staying in our local community.