In 1967, County Boards of Developmental
Disabilities were established by the Ohio
state legislature to provide supports and
services to individuals with developmental
The story of Happy Hearts School and
Ash/Craft Industries is written into the
history of Ashtabula County. The story
began at a time when few believed individuals with disabilities deserved the
right to public education and a brighter future. The story of Happy Hearts School and Ash/Craft Industries is an example to all the love, commitment and determination of parents who persisted and prevailed in accomplishing their goal that opened the door. In March of 1954, a small group of parents of children with disabilities met and formed the Ashtabula Council for Retarded Children (ARC). One year later, March 1955, because of the efforts of this group, Happy Hearts School opened its doors to the first school for children with disabilities in the basement of the Methodist Church on Elm Street and was attended by five students.
From 1956 through 1968, Happy Hearts School was hosted in various locations throughout Ashtabula County. Senate Bill 169 was passed which established the creation of the Board of Mental Retardation in 1967 and levies were approved by Ashtabula County voters. In 1968, Happy Hearts School's current building was built. By 1970, the program had grown to provide services to 233 children and adults. In 1977, the construction of Ash/Craft Industries began and today the Ashtabula County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides services to over 500 children and adults with developmental disabilities thanks to the ongoing support of citizens of Ashtabula County.