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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Equal Fun for Everyone – A brief history of SRAs


[shareprints gallery_id=”39194″ gallery_type=”filmstrip” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”xlarge” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” comments=”false” sharing=”true”]Photos are from the archives of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association.

People often question our long, complicated name: Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA). To know the history of Special Recreation Associations (SRAs) is to understand the name.

In the late 1960s, park districts in Illinois identified an underserved population: Those with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. Naperville resident and (then) Illinois State Senator, Harris Fawell, sponsored legislation that allowed park districts to form cooperatives to provide services for those with special needs – and “SRAs” were born! According to the Special Recreation Association Network of Illinois (SRANI), there are now 33 Special Recreation Cooperatives (aka, SRAs) serving 206 communities throughout the state.

Fawell later served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is often quoted as saying, “Of all the bills I’ve sponsored, the special recreation bills are the legistlation I’ve received the most thanks from parents.”

WDSRA was formed in 1976 by the Naperville, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, and West Chicago park districts, and now includes Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Roselle, Warrenville, and Winfield. WDSRA provides engaging, community-based recreational programs and inclusion services for children, teens, and adults with special needs. WDSRA offers Special Olympics, adapted sports, dance and art programs, camps, trips, special events, and more. WDSRA’s mission, the development of individuals through recreation, makes it possible for the more than 4,500 individuals served to grow personally, connect with their community and discover their potential.

The WDSRA Foundation was formed in 1993. Its signature event, The Black & Red Bash, will be held February 28th at the Abbington in Glen Ellyn. For more information on WDSRA or to order tickets for the event, visit www.wdsra.com.

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.