SMD’s roots were planted in Manitoba in 1946 when the Cerebral Palsy Parents’ Council – with the help of the Kinsmen Club of Winnipeg – opened a treatment centre at the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital. Inspired by the success of the project, other Kinsmen Clubs in Manitoba began adding their support. (The Kinsmen Clubs were also responsible for the first Easter Seals Campaign conducted in 1949, specifically to raise funds for eight children with Cerebral Palsy and their families.)
In the meantime, in 1948, a group of Manitoba business women decided to create a program known as the Wheelchair Center for women with disabilities.
The good work done by both groups got the attention of both the Provincial Government and the Winnipeg Welfare Council,. The Province and the Winnipeg Welfare Council approved and supported a new committee interested in supporting children whose normal muscular movement was restricted because of disease, accident or defect. That committee, formed in 1950, became known as the Society for Crippled Children of Manitoba.
The role of the newly-founded Society grew quickly. The Society expanded its services to offer support until children reached the age of 21. The Multiply and Physically Handicapped Program was established to prepare children for entry onto the regular school system. The Federal Government also made money available to provide wheelchairs to people living with disabilities anywhere in Manitoba and placed the Society in charge of the program.
Then in 1954, the Province of Manitoba named the Society as the central rehabilitation agency for all Manitobans living with physical disabilities. The Society’s name was changed to The Society for Crippled Children and Adults of Manitoba in recognition of the new role.
It was in April 1985, that the organization officially changed its name to the now familiar Society for Manitobans with Disabilities Inc. which today provides programs and services to more than 35,000 children and adults across the province.
SMD has changed considerably over the years, growing, evolving and expanding its scope of services and programs. Yet throughout it all, the focus on helping people living with disabilities has never wavered…which is why so many Manitobans have come to know and trust SMD for support.