We at the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association are committed to providing the very best possible community-based recreational programs and services as well as continually seeking out opportunities to better serve the growing needs of our communities.
As part of that commitment, we make a concerted effort to identify individuals who are not being served by WDSRA. We strive to remove any obstacles that might be preventing them from participating and develop programming to meet their needs.
We recently identified a need to provide a structured recreational program for Latino children with autism whose parents were attending an established parent support group. The project is a collaboration with Pediatric Health Associates, Caremark Foundation and PANNA (Padres Aydando Nuestros Ninos con Autismo or “Parents helping their children with autism”).
This drop-in style program, held at the West Chicago Park District every Wednesday evening, provides structured play, skill development and recreational activities for the children while the parent support group meets. WDSRA is providing trained staff and volunteers who are bilingual, so they are able to communicate with both parents and children and trained on working with children with autism. We also provide structured activities, visual supports to aid in communication and sensory equipment.
We are grateful that our commitment has been recognized through a $4,000 Family Services Chapter grant from Autism Speaks to support this project and that the West Chicago Park District, one of our cooperative partners, is providing the facility use at no charge.
On a separate note, the WDSRA Foundation held its 2013 annual Charity Dinner and Auction for Western DuPage Special Recreation Association in March. Through the generosity of hundreds of guests, volunteers, donors and sponsors, nearly $70,000 was raised in support of programs and services for people with special needs. Of particular note is the more than $15,000 raised specifically to bring iPad technology to those participants who either struggle with communication or are completely nonverbal.
We are both humbled and inspired that so many people embrace our commitment of bringing the very best community-based recreational programming to individuals with special needs.
If you would like more information about WDSRA or about how you can help support our efforts, please visit www.wdsra.com or call 630-681-0962 for more information.
Sandy Gbur is the executive director of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association