SMD History Highlights

Returning veterans from World War II brought disability issues into greater public notice. Within this context, a committee was formed, backed by the Manitoba government and involving social activist Margaret Konantz, to establish a service for all people with disabilities.

1946 Cerebral Palsy Parents Council opened a treatment centre at Children’s Hospital for 10 children.  In support, the Kinsmen Club of Winnipeg established $10,000 trust fund.
  Canadian Paraplegic Association (Manitoba) founded to assist war veterans.
1948 Wheelchair Centre created by businesswomen to provide training and independence for women with disabilities.
1949 First Easter Seals fund raising campaign organised by Manitoba Kinsmen Clubs, to raise funds for services to children province-wide.
1950 Society for Crippled Children was founded to assist children with disabilities.
  Wheelchair Program was established by the Province to provide wheelchairs and a repair service province-wide.
  Over 750 polio cases were recorded, over 350 reporting forms of paralysis.
  Multiply and Physically Handicapped Program began to prepare children for school.
1951 Society became the provincial chapter of the Canadian Foundation for Poliomyelitis.
1952 First March of Dimes fund-raising campaign was organised by Society volunteers, to raise funds for services to adults province-wide.
  Radio and television personnel created first Schmockey Night, a March of Dimes fund raising event, with Society staff.  Schmockey founders: Cliff Gardner, Ken Babb, Ted Birch.
  Name changed to Society for Crippled Children and Adults.
1953 Medical Rehabilitation Grant was established the province to improve care.
  Children’s camping programs created, providing recreational and social opportunities at Lakeside Fresh Air Camp at Sandy Hook near Gimli.
  Eight rural clinics were held by interdisciplinary teams which assisted over 300 children.
  Society began referrals to Winnipeg’s Ellen Douglass School, which specialised in services to children with physical disabilities.
1954 Canadian Paraplegic Association began collaborating with the Society.
  Adult camping programs began, providing recreational and social opportunities at Lakeside Fresh Air Camp near Gimli.  Lakeside Camp had entered an agreement with the Society for Crippled Children to provide a safe and entertaining environment for groups of disabled children and adults, post-polio patients and, later, seniors.
1955 Manitoba government designated the Society as the province’s central rehabilitation agency, following a Royal Commission on Rehabilitation.
  Name changed to the Society for Crippled Children and Adults of Manitoba, to reflect new province-wide mandate to serve all ages.
1956 Camping co-sponsorship begun with Lakeside Fresh Air Camp for Children, north of Gimli (re-constructed as Lakeside Camp in 1975).
1957 Society expanded service to individuals who are deaf.
  Industrial Workshop for the Physically Handicapped was created from Wheelchair Centre, to provide employment and training for men as well as women.
1958 Group crafts activities began, led by 40 volunteers.  This became a boutique called Marina Creations, under which homebound client made crafts for sale.
1961 Social Group Work Services were in conjunction with the School of Social Work at the University of Manitoba.  Collaborations later included student placements, under an assigned professor.
1962 Harry S. Truman regretfully turned down an invitation to speak at the 1963 Winnipeg March of Dimes fund-raiser dinner.
1963 Nation-wide Training Course Rehabilitation was created (lasting until 1972), in consultation with the Canadian Rehabilitation Council for the Disabled.
  Preschool Hearing Impaired Program began for children aged 3-5 years.
  Preschool Centre started week long Rural Program sessions for children aged 3-5 years, in which families travelled to Winnipeg.
  Industrial Workshop started an Assessment and Training focus to support employability.
  Speech and Language services were established.
1964 Group Programs for all ages were formed to meet rapid growth in recreational needs.
  Cerebral Palsy Centre moved to the Society from Children’s Hospital, and became a Preschool program for children aged 3-5 years.
  Rural wheelchair repair service plans were initiated.
1965 Society became a key member agency of the new United Way of Winnipeg.
  Mother’s Marches for the March of Dimes campaigns in Winnipeg ceased.  In the absence of local United Way groups, rural Marches continued, organised by service clubs and community groups.
  Total number of Society client included 1,185 adults and 1,158 children.
1966 Marina Creations volunteers began marketing hand crafted products in their boutique.
1967 Language Disorders Program established in response to request by Child Development Clinic.
1969 Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society began providing therapists to Preschool Centre client.
1970 Canadian Association for the Mentally Retarded allocated several programs to the Preschool Centre.
  Preschool Centre received the Reader’s Digest Award for contribution to rehabilitation of children with disabilities, recommended by the Canadian Rehabilitation Council for the Disabled.
  Preschool Centre began speech therapy, occupational and physiotherapy, and assistance with mental disabilities.
  Preschool classroom opened at the Assiniboine Centre in Brandon, where therapy was provided by the hospital.
1971 Society awarded the Manitoba Centennial Medal by the Province for outstanding service.
  Deaf Program began for adults.
  Westman Regional Office started as a pilot project with one Rehabilitation Councillor.  SMD’s first regional office.
1972 Westman Regional Office opened in Brandon.
  Westman Regional Office started a Preschool Program at Sacred Heart School in Brandon (until 1983)
  Amalgamated Hearing Impaired Preschool Program was created for children aged 3-5 years.
1973 Construction for a new year-round camp facility was begun at Lakeside Camp.
  Volunteer Co-ordinator began supervising over 200 volunteers, under funding from the
Volunteer Bureau of Winnipeg and the Junior League.
  Building addition and new facilities opened at 825 Sherbrook Street  in Winnipeg.
1975 Home Program began in Winnipeg for children under three, in which therapists visited clients in their homes.
  Lakeside Fresh Air Camp extended its association with the Society for Crippled Children and Adults of Manitoba by leasing the property to the Society in 1975. That arrangement continued for only two more years till the camp closed down. (MB Historical Society website of 2017-02-07)
  The new Lakeside Camp opened at a different site near Gimli.
Dr. Gertrude Kent taught a class/week for the Winnipeg League for the Hard of Hearing (WLHoH) at SMD.
1976 Industrial Workshop became the Employment Preparation Centre to focus on preparing clients for employment.
  New provincial funding for motorised wheelchairs involved adjudication by a joint committee of SCCA and Manitoba Health staff.
1978 Over 300 volunteers assist the Society in delivering programs.
1979 Teaching began for Hearing Impaired Preschool Program for children aged 3-5 years.
  SMD and Canadian Paraplegic Association began issuing parking placards to people with disabilities.
1980 Toll-free telephone line was installed for rural clients.
  Westman Office and Brandon General Hospital began an outreach program, replacing the hospital-based Preschool Program (until 2007).
  Home Program began Teacher’s Outreach for children aged 1-3 years.
1981 International Year of the Disabled grant via WLHoH for Dr. Kent to teach Catherine Shearer, future teacher of Speechreading for Seniors.
1983 Shearer met with Mary Ann Playford on the need for speechreading programs.
1984 Canadian Paraplegic Association began independent staffing.
  Minimum wage was guaranteed to sheltered client of the Employment Preparation Centre.
1985 Name changed to the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities Incorporated, to reflect a contemporary image for persons with disabilities.
  Camping programs were initiated to integrate client into camps province-wide.
  Wheelchair Services underwent major expansion to include repairs to motorised wheelchairs and to non-SMD sponsored wheelchairs.
1986 Special Programs Counsellor began providing support for employers and client on work placement.
  Total Communication classroom expanded the Hearing Impaired Preschool Program.  It included American Sign Language as well as oral speech and language.
  Three of the four recreation programs became based in community facilities, serving 83 people (ages 7-21 years), and providing one-to-one service.
  Preschool Computer Project was established to provide the benefits of technology to children aged 3-5 years.  The SMD Preschool became a replacement site for Project Activating Children Through Technology.
  First 24 Hour Relay fund raiser launched for the Easter Seal campaign.
  Parklands Regional Office opened in Dauphin.
1987 First regionally based Rural Program was held in Dauphin.
  Preschool Early Intervention Program sent interdisciplinary teams to rural children aged 3-5 years.
  SMD Home Finding Services - in Winnipeg, Brandon and Dauphin (Referrals from the Preschool, Children’s and Adult Programs).
  Schmockey Night awarded the Order of the Buffalo Hunt and the Premier’s Volunteer Service Award, on the 35th anniversary of this March of Dimes fundraising event.
1988 Wheelchair Services took over all wheelchair repairs from Employment Preparation Centre.
  Northern Regional Office opened in Thompson
  Sheltered Workshop was dissolved to focus on community-based evaluation and training. 
Sign Talk Development Project concluded.
1989 Eastman Regional Office opened in Steinbach.
  Employment Preparation Centre began planning, implementing, and transferring employment placements.
  Preschool Centre expanded assessments by Early Intervention Team.
  Preschool Centre increased assistance to children with disabilities in day cares.
  Assessment, Intervention and Training Program was implemented, as a result of a joint study with the Manitoba government of preschool children at risk.
  Rehab Resources established May 25.
1990 Society increased its focus on community-based services.  Preschool services were 75% community-based and 25% facility-based.
  The Premier declares the Red River Cart produced at the Employment Preparation Centre an official souvenir of Manitoba.
  Final Easter Seals Dance (aka Timmy or Tammy Dance) was held by CFB Portage la Prairie.  It had raised $500,000 over 33 years.
  Deaf Literacy Program founded (only one in Canada) with Red River Community
College and Winnipeg Community Centre for the Deaf.
  Services to hi-tech and lighter weight wheelchairs were introduced.
1991 The province-wide Parking Permit Program was established with initial funding from the Manitoba government, in conjunction with Canadian Paraplegic Association and Community Therapy Services.
  Residential camping programs ceased at Lakeside Camp, in favour of integrated community-based camping.  This led to quick expansion of Outreach Programs occurring throughout the province.
  Cost of Future Care Program and Contract Case Management services were offered to Workers Compensation Boards and life insurance companies.
  Preschool Program for Deaf Children and the Adaptive Skills Program, increased classroom and outreach programming for children aged 3-5 years.
  Wheelchair Services introduced rural repair clinics, and all services were expanded to increase sales of mobility aids and repairs.
1992 The final Schmockey Night celebrated 40 years of fundraising for March of Dimes, exceeding $700,000 since 1952.
  SMD Foundation established to increase efficiency and stewardship of charitable donations.
  Software Lending Library was established for children.
  Contract Case Management Services initiated by Occupational Rehab Group of Manitoba began work experience and chronic pain management services.
  Supported employment program was created in Thompson.
  As a result of the move to integrated camping, Lakeside Camp facility was returned to the Manitoba Government.
  The Lifeskills/Recreation unit of Rehab Resources was renamed Community Development Program.
1993 SMD Foundation initiated the promotional campaign “SMD Makes A Difference” to showcase the good work of the Society as a whole.
1994 Central Regional Office opened in Portage la Prairie.
1995 Partnership with Manitoba Clearinghouse Concerning Disabilities began to promote awareness and increase services available.
  Provincial Outreach Therapy Program for Children began, with Rehabilitation Centre for Children and Manitoba Children’s Special Services.
  SMD Foundation initiated the Easter Seals Great Escape Lottery.
  SMD Ventures established the Kildonan Hearing and Speech Centre, Pembina Valley Hearing Centre Winkler, and Access Ability Inc. to diversify income.
  SMD celebrated the 40th anniversary of the discovery of the anti-polio Salk Vaccine.
  Speech Assisted Reading and Writing began giving adult literacy skills.
1997 Ethno-Cultural Project began to serve those from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  Direct Mail fund-raising was transferred to SMD Foundation, completing the transfer of all fund-raising throughout SMD.
  Central Regional Office in Morden opened (actually 7 miles south of Morden out of the Rehabilitation Counselor’s basement).
1998 New logo unveiled “SMD and Me”, symbolising inclusiveness.
  The Morden office moved to the Living Well Centre at 160 Stephen Street.
1999 SMD Alliance was founded to provide strategic vision and policy direction to the nine subsidiary corporations in the SMD family.
  SMD Ventures was established to explore business opportunities.
  SMD Self-Help Clearinghouse was created to improve information exchange.
  SMD Foundation initiated the Harvest of Dreams Lottery.
2000 SMD AbiTech created as a national research centre for new technologies.
  SMD Foundation launched “Do It For Mom” advertising campaign in support of the March of Dimes campaign.
  Interlake Regional Office in Selkirk opened. 
SMD Foundation launched the Fun in the Sun Lottery.
2001 March of Dimes celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Manitoba, with a commemorative dime recognising the work of the Marching Mothers in the 1950s. SMD Ventech established.
2002 SMD Services awarded the Prix Pensée by the Fondation  minorité inVISIBLE of Montréal.
2003 SMD Services awarded the Canada Post National Literacy Award in the Community Leadership category.
  SMD Foundation began sponsoring research at the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies and fellowships at the University of Manitoba.
2004 Rural United Way memberships now include Steinbach, Portage Plains, Pine Falls & District, Carberry & North Cypress, Souris District, Reston & District, Altona-Gretna & District, Carman & Community, Neepawa & District, and Dauphin.
  The Morden office moved to 30 Stephen Street.
2007 SMD and the Canadian Health Network’s Living with Disabilities (LWD) Affiliate held a conference on “Health and Wellness with Disability and Disease”.
2008 The Central Regional Office provided a hearing loss program from until 2010 (Level 1 and 2 classes held at the Morden Library).
2009 Barrier Free Project launched.
2011 Central Regional Office partnered with their local Fire Department to hold a Sledge Hockey event.  Since then, three children travel regularly to Winnipeg to participate at the MTS Iceplex on Saturdays.
2014 The Westman Regional Office hosted 9 weeks (7 weeks in the summer, 1 week during Christmas Break and 1 week during Spring Break) of Recreation and Leisure Programing in Brandon (for 25 children and youth).
2015 All children’s programs moved to Specialised Services for Children and Youth.  Included Outreach Therapy for Children, Children’s Special Services, etc.
2016 SMD’s Sledge Hockey team won the gold medal at the Western Canada Sledge Hockey Tournament.


Copyright Society for Manitobans With Disabilities 2017-09-17.

Please credit SMD Archives.