The ACHIEVEMENT CENTER FOR CHILDREN, a nonprofit agency founded nationally in Elyria in 1907 and locally on July 7, 1940 as the Society For Crippled Children, has provided outpatient rehabilitation for disabled individuals from birth through age twenty-one. The death of his only son and the injuries of others in a streetcar accident on Memorial Day 1907 led industrialist Edgar F. Allen to found the society, which maintained its national headquarters in Elyria until moving to Chicago in 1945.
The Cleveland branch evolved from the Association for the Crippled and Disabled, an organization led during the 1930s and 1940s by BELL GREVE, active in the International Society for Crippled Children. Early in 1934, the association established a Curative Playroom for disabled children at 2233 East 55th Street; the local Society for Crippled Children shared this address at first. Frank T. McGuire and William B. Townsend helped found the local chapter and remained officers into the mid-1960s, McGuire as president, Townsend as director.
By 1947 the society opened Camp Cheerful, the first barrier-free residential camp in the state of Ohio, located in the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System in Strongsville. For the first time in Northeast Ohio, Overnight camping experiences were offered for children with disabilities. In 1965 the million-dollar Heman Rehabilitation Institute opened at 11001 Buckeye Road, replacing the headquarters at the former location at E. 55th St. The building was named for benefactors Homer D. and Antoinette M. Heman. In 1967 the Achievement Center for Children ended its long-time association with National Easter Seals and in 1968 joined the Cleveland United Way Services. By 1979 the Society for Crippled Children was offering social services, early intervention, preschool, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy. That same year, at the time of the death of agency founder and director William B. Townsend, the Heman Rehabilitation Institute was renamed the William B. Townsend Center.
In 1988 the agency reorganized as the Achievement Center for Children, keeping the same purpose and function and retaining its headquarters at the Buckeye Road facility. As of 2003 the Achievement Center for Children served more than 2,800 children with disabilities and their families at the Centers' three facilities in Cleveland, Lakewood, and Strongsville's Camp Cheerful, as well as through home and community based initiatives such as the Early Start and Early Intervention programs. In January 1994 Patricia Nobili became the third executive director of the Achievement Center for Children; she still held that post in 2005.