Stories of success at Happiness House in Finger Lakes

What is it like living with autism? Jeremiah Iheoma wanted people to know. He was 10 years old when he wrote “My Super Life with Autism.”

Illustrated with pictures of clay figurines Jeremiah created with his art therapist, the book was on display along with other exhibits Tuesday at an open house celebrating the 50th anniversary of Happiness House. An organization offering programs and services in Ontario, Seneca, Yates and Wayne counties, Happiness House has made a huge difference for Jeremiah and thousands of others.

Now 15, Jeremiah was glad to show his book during the open house at the Happiness House Canandaigua site. It was the first of several events yet to come commemorating the anniversary.

Officially launched in 1969, Happiness House began when parents of children with cerebral palsy banded together in Geneva. The New York State Elks Club and the Women's Club of Geneva raised the money necessary to open the first childcare program in a house on North Street, serving five children with disabilities. Happiness House was then chosen to become the Finger Lakes affiliate of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State. From there, Happiness House took off. Today, it is a major health and human service organization for children and adults with and without disabilities — in collaboration with families and partner organizations.

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