Dr. Ilene Wilkins celebrating with one our Pre-K students at one of our Early Childhood Graduations.
Our organization has evolved tremendously since it was established in 1955. What began as a community of parents creating a better quality of life for their children with Cerebral Palsy, has grown into a movement that has surpassed our wildest expectations.
We started out with humble beginnings, providing early intervention and therapy services to children with Cerebral Palsy in a remodeled home on Colonial Drive. We quickly found that other children desperately needed our services and pushed ourselves to grow in order to meet the needs of families raising children with other disabilities including Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Speech Delays, and many more.
Since our first expansion we have maintained a steady path of growth as we took on the needs of more families needing opportunities for their children. We realized children of all abilities need to be supported as individuals. For us, this meant understanding all the factors that play into what makes a child whole, to lay forth a foundation that empowers them at every stage of development.
We rode the momentum created by the impact of our therapy services and created a tapestry of programs committed to enriching the lives of children on all essential levels; in their education, and in their social and emotional development, while also continuing to provide physical, occupational, and speech-language therapies.
UCP of Central Florida gained a reputation for creating paths to success in ways that weren’t considered mainstream, focusing on each individual child, and breaking down social, emotional, socioeconomic, and academic barriers to unlock the inherent potential of every child. We became a community that welcomes children with and without disabilities who needed a better alternative in order to cultivate sustainable strides towards better futures. We also identified gaps in young adults who have been marginalized because of their circumstances paving the way to UCP’s Transitional Learning Academy which helps transition young people with disabilities from
middle school through early adulthood and UCP’s BETA Teen Parent Connection Program which helps teen moms continue their middle and high school education as they transition into motherhood.
The core of our philosophy is that disabilities do not define a child’s potential to prosper and contribute to their community. Through that philosophy, we found that every child needs, and deserves the tools they need to blossom academically, socially, and emotionally and are proud that our roots as a nonprofit organization have evolved into an inter-sectional and inclusive vision where every child has equal access to the resources, experiences, and community that will help them achieve their ambitions.
It’s the same vision that began in 1955, only today it touches more lives than we could have ever imagined. We invite you to join us in our mission, the work is never done but we are committed to continuing to change lives and grow our community through our programs. There are countless ways to make an impact, you can donate, volunteer, join our team, take a tour, attend our events, and most importantly spread the word.
Together, we can create lifelong change in the lives of children and we are grateful to serve and work alongside the Central Florida community.
President & CEO
UCP of Central Florida