UCP of Greater Houston (7/365)

by Christine · 0 comments

in Featured,Non-Profits

United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Houston, Inc. (UCP) is a non-profit corporation providing services to individuals with all types of disabilities and their families. With a staff of over 75 people, they provide services to individuals and their families from a number of outreach locations, offering eight major programs: Infant Development/ECI, Respite Services, Toy/Tech and Play Groups, Over Three Therapy, Assistive Technology Lab, Camps, Counseling and Case Management, High School/High Tech, Housing Initiative and Adult Recreation and Leisure.

Camp Buckaroo, their day camp held in five week-long summer sessions around Greater Houston is an exemplary program allowing children with disabilities and their siblings to reach new limits while giving their caregivers a break, was the focus of my photo project session. In total, Camp Buckaroo hosted 120 campers and 140 volunteers for the summer. With locations in the Woodlands, Katy, Pasadena and two weeks in Houston, campers made their own stuffed animals, were visited by the Houston ZooMobile, enjoyed fun science lessons from Mad Science, magicians, the Singing Cowboy, music therapy, learned new dance moves, created art projects, and made life long friends.

I visited Camp Buckaroo in the Woodlands on the last day of Camp, and witnessed first-hand the great work they are doing. What an amazing opportunity for the kids involved with this program, and the volunteers helping them! You could tell what a bond the campers and the volunteers have after spending the week together playing & learning!

UCP provided important information with me that I wanted to share. When considering a charity to support, please keep UCP/Easter Seals of Greater Houston in mind!

Huge gaps in services exist for people with disabilities – in access to healthcare, transportation, employment, education and affordable housing. UCP/Easter Seals Houston seeks to fill some of these gaps with programs focused on providing the highest impact in the most effective way. Over 65% of those we serve live under the poverty line and face significant caregiver, transportation and healthcare costs. Many of the middle class families served have extremely low disposable income due to significant transportation, caregiver and medical costs arising from their disability or their child’s – making services provided free of charge even more important. For healthcare, these factors put our clients at high risk for contracting communicable diseases, complications due to the lack of medical professionals capable of/willing to treat them, and treatment for medical conditions only when they have reached emergency levels (further taxing an already overwhelmed emergency care system in our city).

Today, UCP’s clients have more serious and complex needs than ever before. Many of our clients risk becoming impoverished by their disability – they lose employment or must stay home with a child who needs 24 hour care every day, they suffer from extraordinary financial, physical and mental stress. The need for constant care for a child or adult with severe disabilities is perpetual; it does not decrease as the individual grows older. Parents may feel guilty about their disappointment when their child is born different, may feel extreme stress or anger as they deal with being a caregiver, divorce rates and substance abuse increase, institutionalization of the individual with a disability is more likely and the family can be destroyed without intervention. Virtually every national study has reflected that children with disabilities are two to ten times as likely to be abused. Many of our adult program clients report significant struggles with depression and isolation – which is consistent with the few studies focused on this segment of our community. Intervention services have been shown to be one of the most efficient and effective tools in reducing the likelihood of divorce and abuse. Without even considering the enormous emotional and societal costs of institutionalizing a person with a disability, the economics also bear out that it is far less expensive to keep them in their home, surrounded by family, than to put them into an institution.

Due to demographic trends (Baby Boomers aging and acquiring a disability, babies being born earlier and surviving but with high risk of developmental delay, more multiple births with extremely high risk of disability, more accident and military incidents resulting in traumatic brain injury rather than death) and a lack of services in our area, UCP/Easter Seals Houston has expanded services to address a broader range of needs in the past few years. To meet the needs of the increasing number of people with disabilities, UCP/Easter Seals Houston must strengthen and then build its organizational capacity for service to the community which is why effective January 1, 2011, we will officially become Easter Seals Houston.

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