A Look Back: Easterseals Central Illinois and the 2010s

In December of 2010, Easterseals named “The Ray and Kathy LaHood Center for Cerebral Palsy” in honor of the former United States Secretary of Transportation and his wife. The center opened in 2011.

In 2012, the Easter Seals Foudnation of Central Illinois was incorporated as a separate 501(c)(3).

In 2013, Easterseals was awarded contracts to administer tow regional Child and Family Connections offices, one in Peoria County and one in Champaign County.

In 2014, the new name and brand “Easterseals Central Illinois” was established. That same year, the service territory grew to 62 Illinois counties.

In 2017, the Easterseals learning Academy opened.

In 2019, Easterseals Central Illinois celebrated out 100th Anniversary, culminating in the Easterseals Century Ball on Friday, November 1.

A Look Back: Easterseals Central Illinois and the 2000s

The 2003 edition of the Easterseals UCP Collectible Christmas Ornament was designed by a Metamora High School graduate in celebration of the Peoria Art Guild’s 125th anniversary.

Titled “Christmas in Peoria – The Peoria Art Guild,” that year’s ornament was designed by Alyssa Kindig, a recent graduate of Metamora High School, and also an active apprentice in the Peoria Art Guild’s “Mentor Apprentice Program.” Her signature appeared on the back of each ornament.

The ornament was 24-karat, gold over brass and was available for $15 at multiple stores, including Bremer Jewelry.

Three thousand of these limited-edition ornaments were sold through the holiday season that year, with all proceeds benefitting the Easterseals UCP mission.

A Look Back: Easterseals Central Illinois and the 1990s

In 1993 the organization celebrated the 75th Anniversary and to celebrate the National EasterSeal Society launched an Easterseal Story Search in the hope of gathering stories from people who had been involved in the first 75 years of Easterseals in Central Illinois. The 90’s also saw the unveiling of Timberpointe Outdoor Centre which has become a top summer camp serving children and adults with disabilities. The late 90’s saw a merger between United Cerebral Palsy and Easterseals, called Easter Seals-UCP and named Steve Thompson as executive director of the new organization.

A Look Back: Easterseals Central Illinois and the 1980s

Through the 80’s the organization continued to grow and innovate treatment methods. In July of 1985, Easterseals established the Central Illinois Center for Independent Living. It was later spun off as an independent, not-for-profit organization and is known today as Advocates for Access.

In 1986, Easterseals marked the 50th anniversary of service in the Peoria Area and hosted the first “Lekotek” program in downstate Illinois. Lekotek is a Swedish word meaning “play library”. This innovative program made adaptations to toys and loaned them to children with disabilities and their families. Certified Lekotek Leaders showed parents how to use both conventional as well as adaptive toys to effectively engage, motivate and teach their child. This groundbreaking programs helped to form the play-based therapy strategies used today.

In 1989, ground was broken on “The House of Dreams,” a $269,000 luxury home whose proceeds went to fund services for children at Easterseals. Take a look at the newspaper clipping below to read more on the story of this dream house.