United Cerebral Palsy’s 2015 Annual Conference

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United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) kicked off its 2015 Annual Conference in Chicago on Wednesday, May 20. “Focusing Our Vision: Reflecting Our Movement” was the theme of this year’s three-day event. The theme centers on one of Chicago’s most well-known sculptures, “The Bean,” which symbolizes how the organization and its affiliates reflect those they serve.

One of the largest health non-profits in the United States, UCP is dedicated to advancing the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities. The organization works with a network of affiliates to educate, advocate and provide support services to those with a broad range of disabilities, helping them to live a life without limits.

“Reflecting Our History, Focusing Our Future”

With more than 200 of UCP’s most influential leaders, members and supporters in attendance, the conference boasted an impressive schedule of speakers. Gloria Johnson-Cusack, Board Chair of UCP National, and Stephen Bennett, UCP National’s CEO & President, both presented.

Thursday morning’s opening session took a look back at UCP’s history and how it has shaped the organization today, as well as its plans for the future. Among the presenters was R.J. Mitte, an actor well known for his role as “Walt Jr.” on AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad. Mitte, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was three, expressed excitement over his involvement in the event via Twitter:

A celebrity ambassador for the organization since 2011, Mitte gave a motivating speech and presented the Outstanding Youth Awards. These awards recognize youth who have significantly enhanced the lives of people with disabilities through philanthropy, volunteerism, advocacy, technological innovation, fundraising or caregiving.

“Innovations in Early Intervention”

O’Ryan Case, UCP National’s Director of Membership and Public Education, led a discussion about the future of early intervention for children with special needs, one of the many interesting topics addressed at the conference. The panel for this topic included Susan Connor, Ed. M., Assistant Director of the Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois, and Dr. Gary Edwards, CEO of UCP Birmingham.

Discover the key factors that help professionals change perceptions, adopt best practices and improve on the support they offer families…

-Excerpt from the 2015 UCP Annual Conference Schedule, “Innovations in Early Intervention”

Diagnosing and treating children with special needs early is important because of the impact it can have on a child’s functional abilities. Early intervention services help children under the age of three learn new skills during this critical time in their development. Teaching a child with developmental problems new skills once they’re older may be more difficult, so intervention during the first 36 months is crucial. Early intervention services  focus on the following five areas of development:

  • Movement (physical development)
  • Learning (cognitive development)
  • Interaction (communication development)
  • Behavior (social or emotional development)
  • Adaptive development (use of existing skills)

Other topics included how to maximize your brand with social media, experiences in launching the virtual fundraising event Steptember, the strength of volunteer leadership and more. The conference concluded on Friday afternoon with a discussion about the motivating power of storytelling.

To find out more about United Cerebral Palsy and this year’s Annual Conference, click here.

Birth Injury Support Team

Cerebral Palsy Guide was founded upon the goal of educating families about cerebral palsy, raising awareness, and providing support for children, parents, and caregivers affected by the condition. Our easy-to-use website offers simple, straightforward information that provides families with medical and legal solutions. We are devoted to helping parents and children access the tools they need to live a life full of happiness