One of the things that warms my heart about living in DuPage County is the sense of community that is built among residents, businesses, social services and just about every other organization. I am especially delighted to share that the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) is actively building a sense of community and has been for over forty years. WDSRA believes strongly in creating a feeling of belonging for our participants, uniting in the values and successes of the communities we serve and sharing a commitment to meeting the needs of its residents.

First and foremost is the very heart of community–based recreation for people with special needs. In short, that means we are committed to offering recreation programs where participants are immersed within their community. We intentionally create as many programs as possible to take place in and around the communities we serve. For instance, dining programs can revolve around all the culinary options found in and around Naperville. Sports teams are playing on local courts and fields. Social clubs are visiting local theaters and entertainment venues. We know these connections build a tremendous sense of community for every individual and creates a genuine feeling of belonging.

Second, our sense of community extends beyond programs. WDSRA contributes to the economic foundation of the communities we serve. On average we fill roughly 700-900 part time positions. Often these positions are filled by first time job seekers like high school and college students. They can be supplemental jobs for teachers, retirees and stay-at-home moms.  Dollars spent on movie tickets, restaurant tabs, store purchases and other services go right to local businesses.

Next is the education and general awareness we bring to our communities. We host hundreds of volunteers a year who give their time to serving snacks at dances, keeping time at a track meet, working Ribfest on our behalf, and more. Volunteers, whether from church groups, schools, scouts, or business groups all give their time to work side-by-side with our participants. On the flip side, several of our participants are also involved in regular volunteer activities like helping set up for Ribfest.

All of this helps create an awareness that opens hearts and eyes. It helps people see commonalities instead of differences. It creates new connections for everyone. And of course, it builds an authentic sense of community not only for our participants but for everyone.

If you would like to be a part it all, contact us at 630-681-962 or visit www.wdsra.com for more details.