For 75 years, Easter Seals BC/Yukon has been a leader in making a difference in bettering the lives of children and adults with disabilities, and for families having to travel to Vancouver for medical treatment. You can help grow this legacy so persons with disabilities, and medical conditions, can continue to experience confidence, independence and dignity.
Founded in 1947,
Easter Seals BC/Yukon, a service of the BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities, has been a leader in developing and providing programs and services to persons with disabilities that help build their self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of independence. And for providing low-cost medical accommodation to those in need of traveling to Vancouver.
We are incredibly proud of our legacy of service and are dedicated to continuing our efforts to help persons with disabilities live their life to the fullest over the next 75 years.
How Easter Seals Started
Easters Seals can be traced back to an Ohio businessman, Edgar Allen, who lost his son in a car accident in 1907. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to begin a fundraising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown. Through this new hospital, Allen was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired to make a difference, he founded the National Society for Crippled Children in 1919, the first organization of its kind.
With the help of Rotary Clubs, the organization worked hard to ensure that children with disabilities received the vital services they needed and eventually spread throughout the United States and into Canada.
On November 28, 1922, representatives from seven Rotary Clubs met in Windsor, Ontario to discuss the inadequate resources and support available for the province’s children with physical disabilities. Recognizing a need for action in their area, they formed the Ontario Society for Crippled Children, known today as Easter Seals Ontario – the first Easter Seals in Canada to support children with disabilities.
The Birth of the Seal
In the spring of 1934, the National Society for Crippled Children 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 seal. 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 the National Society for Crippled Children’s logo in 1952 for its association with new life and new beginnings.
Highlights from 75 years of service.
Louis Toban, project chairman for the East Vancouver Lions Club, announced a province-wide campaign to raise funds for sick and crippled children through the sale of Easter Seals. The Seals were valued at fifty for a dollar and were mailed to almost every home in BC.
The East Vancouver Lions Club saw a greater need in the community to help local families and began to help transport children with disabilities to medical appointments, school and other activities. This was the beginning of the ‘Bunny Bus’ transportation system.
Lions Clubs and other community leaders formally establish the BC Society for Crippled Children, now known as BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities.
The Society takes over the administration of the Easter Seals fundraiser.
Funds raised from the sale of Easter Seals went towards the teaching and medical assistance of children with physical and mental disabilities at St. Christopher School, the Preventorium, Queen Alexandra Solarium, the Cerebral Palsy Society, the Traveling Clinic and the Children’s Hospital.
The Lower Fraser Valley Cerebral Palsy Association (LFVCPA) was given a Bunny Bus franchise for the cities of Surrey, Langley and Delta, which also allowed them to join the Easter Seals fundraising program.
The first Easter Seals House opens on West 10th in Vancouver with five units.
Two additional Bunny Buses were purchased for the LFVCPA to use.
A fourth Bunny Bus was purchased for the LFVCPA.
The Society took over the operation of the transportation system from the LFVCPA.
The Society established their first overnight summer camping experience at Easter Seals Camp Winfield in the Okanagan for children and teens with physical and/or mental disabilities.
The Society expands its summer camp program and opens Easter Seals Camp Squamish to service children and teens with disabilities from the Lower Mainland.
The first of 23 annual Timmy’s Christmas Telethons is broadcast across BC in December bringing together Lions Clubs, the community, corporate supporters, and individual donors to raise funds in support of Easter Seals programs and services.
First of 35 annual 24 Hour Relays For The Kids is held at Swangard Stadium challenging teams of runners to run relay style for 24 hours. It brought together Lions Clubs, the community, corporate sponsors and individual donors to raise funds in support of Easter Seals programs and services.
Addressing a need on Vancouver Island, the Society opens its third summer camp for kids and teens at Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan.
The Easter Seals House opens in Prince George to service northern families in need of short-term accommodation. Remain open for 30 years.
A new Easter Seals House is built and opens in the heart of Vancouver with 49 self-contained units for families in need of short-term accommodation while obtaining medical treatment or care in nearby hospitals.
Easter Seals funds two high technology lasers at the Lions Laser Skin Centre at Vancouver General Hospital. The lasers virtually eliminate birth marks and other skin disorders
The Victoria Easter Seals House opens its door and services Islanders in need of short-term accommodation for 12 years.
Over the next 10 years the Art in the City fundraiser became a highlight in Vancouver. Various sculptures from orcas, bears, eagles to the Terracota Warrior were designed by local artists, put on display in Vancouver and then sold to raise funds.
Timmy’s Christmas Telethon returns on Shaw TV for five years promoting and helping to raise funds to support Easter Seals programs and services.
300 volunteers and countless donors give Camp Winfield a half million dollar makeover surprise. Spearheaded by board member Rob Ellis, over 212 projects were completed that included everything from a fresh coat of paint to a new amphitheatre, plumbing and electrical work.
The Society begins a new strategic plan to “Reimagine” its programs and services by broadening its mandate to enable abilities and support persons with disabilities of all ages.
The Society celebrates its 50th year of Camp Winfield.
A City Adventure Day Camp Program launches in the cities of Vancouver and North Vancouver.
The online Camp@Home Program launches to help support persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Compass Program launches for young adults with disabilities to help them navigate the transition to adulthood.
City Adventure Day Camp expands to Kelowna and Surrey.
Camp Squamish celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Camp Squamish facilities are renovated.
City Adventure Day Camp expands to Surrey.
Easter Seals BC/Yukon celebrates 75 years of making lives better for persons with disabilities!