Max Starkloff founded Paraquad after acquiring a spinal cord injury at age 21. At the time, in 1970, Starkloff was living in a nursing home, a common outcome for people with significant disability-related needs. His search for independence led to the formation of Paraquad, a Center for Independent Living (CIL).
CILs are non-residential organizations that embody the values of the independent living movement, which originated during the 1960s when people with disabilities organized to fight for their civil rights. Over the past 50 years, Paraquad has expanded to address the needs of the St. Louis community through more than 20 programs and services. We fought for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the creation of Consumer Directed Services (a program that provided funding for people with disabilities to hire personal attendants of their choice). More recently, we helped increase asset limits for people using Missouri Medicaid, allowing people to work while accessing essential health services.
As we celebrate our 50th year of service in 2020, Paraquad is increasing its commitment to building a sustainable pathway to independence through employment opportunities. We are also transforming our Health and Wellness Center to introduce new exercise therapy services for individuals with specific goals and for those who are seeking post-rehabilitation services.