January 5, 2023
AbilityPoint to celebrate 70-years of service
Founded in 1953 - Celebrating 70-years of Service
It all began, in 1953, when forward-thinking parents placed an ad in the newspaper looking for other families who had children with intellectual and or developmental disabilities (IDD) searching for support, direction and hope.
From this gathering they began one of the first chapters in the Country of the newly formed ARC of the United Sates and soon created the first preschool in Kansas for children with a disability and in 1956 socialization and recreation programs were added.
“Back then families only had two options,” said Kevin Fish, executive director. “Their children could be sent away to live in an institution, or they could keep their child at home with little or no support for the family”.
Children living with an IDD were not yet allowed in schools and there were no employment opportunities for adults.
“It’s hard to imagine today what those parents went through back then when there just were not any options and little to no public/community understanding or support. These founding families wanted to change all that and they did,” Fish said.
That same vision 70 years ago continues to guide unique and innovative programs and activities for individuals of all ages and their families.
Today AbilityPoint is the largest provider of targeted case management services in Kansas services and continues to provide unique educational and social programs that promote, sustain and improve social skills, independent living, physical and mental health.
“It is more than that, we promote self-advocacy, and building self-confidence and one of our main program goals is to increase the public’s awareness and acceptance, too,” Kristen Phillips, Director of Operations said.
In 2023, AbilityPoint will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Miss Unstoppable and the 35th anniversary of YESS.
1953 – Formed and Chartered
1954 – Created first preschool for children with an IDD in Kansas
1956 – Began recreation and socialization programs for teens
1960 – Established Camp Wonderful known today as AbilityCamp
1962 – Established first sheltered workshop in Kansas – became KETCH in 1965
1968 – Preschool spun off to Starkey
1978 – Began mini tours and travel programs
1988 – Established Youth Education and Summer Socialization (YESS) Program
1992 – Created first external targeted case management program in Kansas
1998 – The popular Wichita Holiday tradition drive thru lights display begins
2005 – Began Circle of Friends mentoring program
2013 – Created adult mentoring program
2019 – Adult Days – Tier 0 programming introduced
2021 – Changed name to AbilityPoint and established CREW teaching personal finance and independent living skills