Lions Clubs began in Chicago in 1917 with the goal of “community betterment”. Soon the clubs began to spread across North America and the world. In 1947, a group of Lions Clubs in BC decided that they could make a difference in their community by providing transportation to children with disabilities so that they could attend school, doctor’s appointments and other important events.
The BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities was established shortly thereafter, and the development of a province-wide accessible bus system began. It grew to the point that at one time it was the largest private bus system in North America. BC Transit has taken over many routes through the years, however we still continue to operate buses in communities where there are no other options for children with disabilities. From this initial idea, other services for children and their families began to take shape, and with the integration of the Easter Seals franchise came the development of Easter Seals Houses and Easter Seals Camps. The first house was built in 1970 and provided affordable accommodation for children and their families who were seeking medical treatment in Vancouver. The Oak Street House currently helps serve large numbers of children obtaining treatment at BC’s Children’s Hospital. Another house has since opened in Victoria. Children who are receiving medical treatment stay for free, and their family members can stay at highly subsidized rates.
The Society also began operating camps in the 1968 with Camp Winfield and then subsequently in Squamish in 1972 and Shawnigan Lake in 1976. The camps were designed to be fully accessible, and each summer, children with disabilities were invited to camp free of charge. Our camping tradition has continued and grown stronger. Our three camps now host over 800 children each summer for weeklong sessions, still at no charge to their families. Camp allows children to “give and grow” in a safe, inclusive and nurturing environment. Ask many of our campers how long until next summer’s camp and they will tell you to the day!!
The Society also funded several major projects during the past twenty years, including the Helipad at Vancouver Hospital and Laser Skin Centres at Vancouver Hospital and BC’s Children’s Hospital. Ongoing support is given to the Laser Skin Centres.
Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for more than 80 years. Whether helping someone improve physical mobility, return to work, or simply gain greater independence in everyday living, Easter Sealss has a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life's challenges and achieve personal goals.
In 1907, Ohio-businessman Edgar Allen lost his son in a streetcar accident. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. Through this new hospital, Allen was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired by this discovery, in 1919, Allen founded what became known as the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind.
In the spring of 1934, the organization launched its first Easter "seals" campaign to raise money for its services. To show their support, donors placed the seals on envelopes and letters. Cleveland Plain Dealer cartoonist, J.H. Donahey designed the first seals. Donahey based the design on a concept of simplicity because those served by the charity asked "simply for the right to live a normal life".
The lily--a symbol of Spring--was officially incorporated as Easter Seals' logo in 1952 for its association with resurrection and new life, and has appeared on each seals since.
The overwhelming public support for the Easter "seals" campaign triggered a nationwide expansion of the organization and a swell of grassroots efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. By 1967, the Easter "seals" was so so well recognized, the organization formally adopted the name "Easter Seals".