By Karim Shamsi-Basha
They rolled into the room in their wheelchairs calm and quiet, but when the music started, they turned into a rousing and harmonious choir.
They sang “We are Family” like they have done it since childhood. Clients at the former United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham sang their hearts out. They told the world they now stand “United” against their disabilities, and they have the “Ability” to do anything, no matter how hard or challenging.
A name-change press conference was held Tuesday at the former United Cerebral Palsy of Birmingham. The new name is United Ability. Executive Director Dr. Gary Edwards explained.
“United Cerebral Palsy is now United Ability. After 70 years, we are changing our name,” Edwards said. “This means we have the same mission, but we are serving individuals with all disabilities. The new name more adequately reflects who we are, what we’re doing now, and the future of serving people with disabilities.”
The new name ties to the past name of the organization, United Cerebral Palsy, but conjures a new way of thinking. The root of the name came from the desire to unite everyone in the community, regardless of ability, to live powerful and meaningful lives. The full name emphasizes what clients are able to do, and the fact they are united in their quest for a fulfilling life.
The name change took place in response to the growing list of causes and programs championed by UCP.
“Over the next 70 years, we really want to start a movement, where people with disabilities are accepted, where employment is available for adults with disabilities, and where everyone is included,” Edwards said.
United Ability provides cutting-edge services empowering those with disabilities to be productive citizens who are connected to their communities. The organization serves more than 4,000 children and adults with disabilities, including: intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome and spina bifida.
“With this name change, we stay true to our longstanding mission. We will help people with all types of disabilities,” Edwards said. “Doing this is my passion, walking through here every day and seeing the miracles that happen, like a child walking for the first time or communicating. I have the greatest job in the world of seeing miracles happen every day.”
For more information, visit www.unitedability.org.