What Are Easter Seals?

Education, Home & Family
on February 6, 2013

Easter Seals is a nonprofit organizaion dedicated to helping children and adults with autism, special needs and disabilities. Easter Seals provides support, services and education to these individuals, their families and communities. The organization has more than 550 sites in the United States and offers additional services and support in Australia through Ability First Australia.

Inspirational accident. In 1907, many areas lacked hospitals and medical services. When Ohioan Edgar Allen’s son died from injuries in a streetcar accident, he decided to make a difference and work to raise funds to build a hospital in his town. During his fundraising venture and the establishment of the hospital, he discovered that children with disabilities, whether due to a birth defect or accident, were often kept from the public. This discovery inspired Allen to found in 1919 the National Society for Crippled Children—the forerunner of today’s Easter Seals.

The first Easter Seal. The National Society for Crippled Children created what would become the first Easter Seal during the spring of 1934. For a fundraising campaign, cartoonist J.H. Donahey designed the seal, a simple sticker used to secure envelopes or letters. According to Easter Seals, Donahey based his design “on a concept of simplicity because those served by the charity asked ‘simply for the right to live a normal life.’”

The seals featured a lily and were sold to help raise funds for support services for children and adults with disabilities. By 1952, the lily seal was the official logo of the organization. In 1967, the National Society for Crippled Children officially changed its name to Easter Seals.

Easter Seals today. Easter Seals reports that its organization annually serves more than one million individuals, including children, adults and their families. Easter Seals provides medical rehabilitation for injuries, medical conditions and issues associated with the natural aging process. Adult and senior services facilitated by Easter Seals include in-home care and caregiver help for family members caring for an elder or infirmed family member.

Easter Seals also serves veteran and current military service members, providing medical services, transitional assistance and other programs designed especially to fit the needs of veterans with disabilities. Easter Seals hold true to Edgar Allen’s original mission to provide support and services for children with disabilities. In addition, Easter Seals offers multiple programs for children and adults with autism.

To find an Easter Seals location near your home, visit its website and input your ZIP code in the box provided on the right hand side of the page.