Kennedy Krieger Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary!

The people behind Kennedy Krieger Institute do not think small. From its beginnings in 1937, to the present day, the Institute has spent the last three-quarters of a century changing how the world views and treats individuals with developmental disabilities.

When the Institute opened in 1937, it did so with an ambitious and novel mission: To be a place where physicians, educators, researchers, nurses, and therapists could provide the compassionate care, education, and support that children with developmental disabilities needed to unlock the potential they had inside—and to improve upon that potential through a commitment to research and training.

It's a mindset that continues 75 years later, only amplified.

Today, we know that it's not enough to help our patients and students adapt to the realities of the world in which they live -- we should also strive to change those realities. To that end, we must uphold our profound commitment to advancing the field of developmental disabilities through innovative research and professional training—leading to new treatments and therapies and new approaches to community participation here and around the world.

By reflecting on the last 75 years, we gain more than a sense of where we've been and what we've accomplished -- we gain inspiration and determination as we consider the future and its possibilities.

To learn more, get involved, stay connected, or support our work, visit www.helpkids.kennedykrieger.org.

 




I was so impressed and pleased to watch these wonderful videos. My Dad (Dr Phelps) was a wonderful person - I was priviledged to grow up with him and witness the work and accomplishments he made in helping so many people. Thank you for this wonderful production.

- Pam Phelps Nelson

Video Gallery

Photo Gallery

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Nine years after establishing the Children's Rehabilitation Institute (CRI) outside of Baltimore, where many early influential professionals in the field of cerebral palsy trained, Dr. Winthrop Phelps was chosen to be the first president of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy in December 1946. He was tasked with leading a team of physicians in the development of a blueprint for an interdisciplinary society dedicated to the care of children with cerebral palsy.

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For the last 75 years, the researchers, clinicians, and educators at the Institute have been helping patients and families deal with the reality of developmental disabilities, striving to better address the challenges these families face, and working to change societal perception of this population. It was this very philosophy that, in 1945, prompted a mother to take her 15-month-old daughter across the country from Cleveland, Ohio, to Baltimore to see Institute founder Dr. Winthrop Phelps.

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Lorenzo's OilLate neuroscientist and former Institute president Hugo Moser dedicated his life to battling some of the world's most perplexing disorders. His decision to continue working, researching, and fighting some of mankind's most daunting conditions long after many would have chosen to retire led to several of the defining moments of his career, including a series of accomplishments that have transformed the lives of thousands of children and their families.

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At nine years old, Hillary Reston developed a dangerous energy her father describes as "positively thermonuclear." In desperation, Fragile Innocence Book CoverJames Reston, Jr. and his wife Denise Leary brought Hillary to the Neurobehavioral Unit (NBU) at Kennedy Krieger Institute in 1990. “For the brain damaged child, Kennedy Krieger is the Harvard and Oxford in one," says Reston.

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In 1989, when Gerry and Gwena Herman got the call to move from Boston to Baltimore to start a physically challenged sports program, there was no question that they would do it. Beginning with a wheelchair basketball program, the Bennett Institute Physically Challenged Sports Program at Kennedy Krieger took root in 1990. And the Hermans have never looked back since.

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At the Institute’s F.M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging, advanced technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows researchers a rare and wondrous window into the brain at work. What’s more, this technology has revolutionized the way researchers diagnose and treat childhood brain-based disorders.

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It's the dead of winter, but college junior Darin Ruark is spending much of his winter break afloat in a sparkling, penthouse-level pool. The air is warm and the sun shines through floor-to-ceiling windows. But while it may sound like a relaxed get-away, Darin isn't enjoying a winter vacation with friends or family. Instead, he's swimming at the Kennedy Krieger Institute as part of his rehabilitation in an innovative aquatic therapy program.

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Liza Patchel has grown used to being told of the many things she will never do. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, doctors said she would never speak or walk. Even as she studied her way to good grades, "experts" told Liza that she would never go to college. Now a thriving adult, Liza clearly enjoys proving people wrong, relishing opportunities to tell her story in the slow, but painstakingly clear, speech that many doubted she would ever develop.

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Former director of physical therapy Susan Harryman, and attending orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Silberstein, discuss the uniqueness of Institute founder Dr. Winthrop Phelps and his approach to treating developmental disabilities, the importance of the family’s role in Institute patient care and educational programs, and the growth of assistive technology driven by Phelps’ original vision.

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One of the first-ever patients at the Institute, Betty Lou Driver, talks about the profound impact that Institute founder Dr. Winthrop Phelps had on her life, helping her to realize her potential in becoming a public school and college graduate, a physical therapist at the Institute that provided a new source of hope and inspiration to parents of the patients she treated, and later in life, an autobiographer.

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Co-director of the peroxisomal diseases lab Ann Moser talks about the contributions of her late husband—former Institute president Hugo Moser—in helping to establish the Institute’s research and professional training model, his efforts in driving the understanding of various disorders at the brain level through new imaging techniques, and his critical role in the formation of the influential Kennedy Fellows program.

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Former vice president of educational programs, Michael Bender, and current vice president of educational programs, Robin Church, talk about the unique educational setting and interdisciplinary approach found in the Institute’s school programs, the evolution and growth of these programs through several location changes, and the pioneering spirit and sense of fulfillment that characterize Kennedy Krieger school employees.

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Dr. Bruce Shapiro, vice president of training at the Institute and the associate director of "Leadership Education Excellence in Caring for Children with Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities" (LEND), discusses the impact of Kennedy Krieger’s professional training program over the past half-century in the understanding, treatment, and prevention of developmental and neurodevelopmental disorders, and the growing network of Kennedy Krieger trainees that continues to uphold and advance this mission at institutes throughout the country.

Current Institute president and CEO, Dr. Gary Goldstein, discusses the enticing research opportunities at a critical juncture in the history of neuroscience that originally drew him to the Institute, the profound community and government support that provides the foundation for Institute research initiatives, and the impact of technological advancements in the fields of brain imaging and genomics that he has seen since his arrival.

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Kennedy Krieger staff from the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury talk about taking part in the making of an episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The episode, featuring the building of a new home in York County, PA for Brian Keefer and his family, aired on Friday, October 21, 2011 on ABC.

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Former Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill talks about her I-Skate adaptive skating program, part of the physically challenged sports programs at Kennedy Krieger. I-Skate provides children with diagnoses and physical challenges that include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and paralysis with a unique opportunity to get involved with physical activity, which improves their health, and an opportunity for important social interaction with their peers.

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Former Institute patient Peter Riddleberger talks about the tough love his parents showed him as a child with cerebral palsy that drove his perseverance, the dedication that he sees in parents of Kennedy Krieger patients today, and the state-of-the-art equipment current patients have available to them, including the aquatic therapy pool at the Institute’s Outpatient Center located at 801 North Broadway in downtown Baltimore.

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