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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Equal fun for everyone — Introducing an uncommon playground


When it comes to recreational opportunities, DuPage County is tops – great parks, great programs. Something for everyone, right? Well, what if a little voice from the corner of the room replied, “Well, not quite everyone.”

15 percent of our children have some sort of physical limitation or learning challenge. These disabilities make physical and/or social play difficult in traditional settings. Thank goodness there are visionaries among us who are willing to reinvent what has become a community standard: The playground.

The Sensory Garden Playground is a cooperative initiative involving Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA), DuPage Forest Preserve District, Wheaton Park District, and Kiwanis Club of Wheaton and is planned to be built on a site just north of Naperville at Danada South Park. It is being designed for those who would benefit from adapted play equipment, progressive sensory opportunities, as well as an inclusive environment. Featured are a fully-accessible tree house, fragrant garden, water play, and play equipment designed for children with various special needs, including those on the autism spectrum who often have trouble processing sensory information.

Imagine these scenarios: An injured veteran can now physically play with his young child at the park. A child on the autism spectrum (who is easily overwhelmed) can take a break from activities by taking a break in a “cozy dome.” And perhaps most importantly, people of all abilities can play together while learning the lesson of inclusion in a fun and natural way.

The Sensory Garden Playground needs community support to become a reality. Visit www.DuPageSensoryPlay.org. Mark my words – The Sensory Garden Playground will become a destination for the families throughout DuPage County and will become a national model of recreational inclusion, as well as a feather in the cap for Naperville supporters.


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Terri Gregory
Terri Gregoryhttp://www.wdsra.com
Terri Gregory is Community Relations Supervisor for Western DuPage Special Recreation Association. WDSRA offers recreational opportunities for adults and children with special needs through programs and inclusion services. WDSRA is a cooperative extension of nine park districts. Almost 30 percent of WDSRA’s participants are from Naperville. Contact her at WDSRA via (630) 681-0962 or terrig@wdsra.com.