In every monthly issue of Nonprofit Matters there is a section that is devoted to highlighting one of the firm’s nonprofit clients. Taking into consideration that throughout the month of October there is a special emphasis on Cerebral Palsy (CP), we are going to use this opportunity to shine the spotlight on our client, The Cerebral Palsy League (CPL), located in Cranford, New Jersey.  

October is the month devoted to international outreach for Cerebral Palsy

For those who might be unaware, October 6, 2019, has been designated as World Cerebral Palsy Day. This unique program, which now has a foot print that spans more than 75 countries, is the result of the dedicated efforts of various organizations and individuals who support people with Cerebral Palsy. The original vision for World Cerebral Palsy Day, was to create a day solely dedicated to CP in order to build awareness, celebrate the progress and achievements being made, act as a catalyst for advancing social change, seek new solutions, and, most importantly, ensure that those with CP are assured of the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

World Cerebral Palsy Day only occurs annually, but it  is the force that produces tangible actions and outcomes that significantly improve the lives of those with CP throughout the year.

Cerebral Palsy is the most common cause of a physical disability in childhood

You may be aware that CP is a lifelong challenge that affects movement, with an impact that can range from a weakness in one hand to almost a complete lack of voluntary movement. But did you know that there are 17 million people across the world living with cerebral palsy (CP) and about 350 million people who are impacted because they are closely connected to a child or adult with CP?

There is no known cure yet for CP, and the effects can be devastating:

  • One in four children with CP cannot talk or walk
  • One in two (50%!) with CP have an intellectual disability
  • One in four of those with CP also have epilepsy

What is the Cerebral Palsy League and how did it get started?

Although CP is acknowledged as the most common physical disability affecting children, for many years most of those with Cerebral Palsy, and other conditions that affect mobility, were not always provided the same rights to educational and medical services as their non-disabled peers.

A movement began across the country as parents and others took it upon themselves to put an end to this inequity.  In 1947 small groups began to form around the country to address the situation, and that is when the Cerebral Palsy League in New Jersey got started.

Founded over 70 years ago with a Vision to be recognized as the highest quality provider of programs and services addressing individuals with disabilities and their families through all stages of life, that initial group quickly expanded over the next decade to include the Myrle Garbe Treatment Center, which offered much needed medical care and was committed to helping children learn to walk and talk, and a day program for children with Cerebral Palsy. Because of the hard work of physicians and other interested parties who were dedicated to  providing specialized care for this special population of children, many children, formerly denied access to the public schools, were now better able to be in the mainstream of the educational system, as they worked to attain their Vision and their Mission. Through the years, the Cerebral Palsy League expanded the programs and services to address the needs of many more individuals so that adults and preschool age children with developmental disabilities were also being served.

Progress continued, and so it was with great pride that on September 10, 2009, the Cerebral Palsy League entered a new phase of history when it opened a newly renovated school facility on its Cranford campus to provide students with a continuum of educational services in an enhanced learning environment. It included state-of-the-art technology, mobility training programs, modernized classrooms and an expanded therapy suite. The new facility combined the operations of its Cranford and Union campuses into one location.

And while the programs have continuously evolved to meet the changing needs of the community, the Mission and Vision have always remained the same.

The Mission has thrived through the years and continues to do so, reaffirming the organization’s dedication to providing a variety of high quality programs and services to assist persons who have developmental disabilities. The organization is committed to the philosophy of helping people with developmental disabilities to obtain their optimal level of functional independence, while maintaining their highest possible quality of life. In that regard, they assist with advocacy efforts on local, state and federal levels for the rights of persons with developmental disabilities.

Under the guidance of Executive Director, Patricia Tekel and the support of a strong board led by current Board President, Gary Goodman, this once small organization that was launched in the late 1940s by volunteers in order to serve children with Cerebral Palsy in Union County, has grown into a League offering support services to educate and empower all age groups from Union, Essex and Middlesex Counties. A new generation of caring, concerned professionals now continues the work of the original pioneers with the same unwavering adherence to the organization’s core beliefs:

  • CPL believes in striving for excellence. All members are dedicated to continuously improving their knowledge and skills and to creating and supporting exemplary programs.
  • CPL believes that teamwork is the key to providing the best programs possible. Members express their viewpoints, respect the viewpoints of others, and support team and administrative decisions.
  • CPL believes that a supportive environment is essential to the delivery of quality services and to the success of individual members and CPL as a whole. Members contribute to this environment through consistently positive attitudes and interactions.
  • CPL believes that all individuals have the right to self-determination.  All members are encouraged to participate in life decisions and choices that impact their lives.
  • CPL believes that all individuals have the capacity to learn and advance toward their personal life goals.
  • CPL believes that individual differences are to be valued and honored.  All members are expected to treat each other with respect and dignity at all times.
  • CPL believes that as a community based organization, its members should be active participants in the larger community.

The impact is stunning

The numbers clearly demonstrate how they are working to achieve their Mission and Vision every day! In fact, the Cerebral Palsy League now serves more than 300 families annually. Its facility in Cranford, New Jersey, is home to Kaleidoscope Early Intervention Services, Come Play and Learn Daycare, the Jardine Academy, CPL Adult Services, and Family Support Services.

October 6 was just the start of the process! That was a great step toward building international momentum, but to learn more about the important work at CPL or how you can help build a sustainable effort, visit the CPL website at http://www.thecplinc.org.