About the Willowbrook Project
The Willowbrook Legacy Project at the College of Staten Island grew out of the historical project initiated by the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council partnered with other stakeholders – the College of Staten Island/CUNY, the NYS Institute for Basic Research (IBR), and the Office For People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) – to establish a memorial walking trail that is now the Willowbrook Mile. The Willowbrook Mile consists of 12 stations that mark the history of the site with benches and landscaping.
It has involved campus faculty, staff, and administration since 2013. The first public-facing element of the project has been the Willowbrook Mile, which will open officially on September 17, 2022, the 35th anniversary of the closing of Willowbrook. This project has been funded by NYS Assemblyman Michael Cusick and the College of Staten Island, with support from the Staten Island Foundation, the CSI Foundation, and community donors.
Why the Willowbrook Project matters
The Willowbrook story provides a stark reminder of the societal loss when people are segregated due to their difference, whatever that difference may be. It also reveals how advocacy and visibility can change this. Spurred by a conviction that nothing like the Willowbrook story should ever happen again, this unique project aims to preserve the site’s history and create a visionary presence that commemorates the continuing struggle for social justice for all people of all abilities.
How your support for the Willowbrook project will be used
Donations will be used to ensure that repairs and maintenance to the Mile can be carried out expeditiously. We are also in the process of expanding the Mile with additional milestones to address the Willowbrook Hepatitis studies and the transfer of residents to Gouverneur Hospital. Donations will be used to complete this expansion. Funds will also support ongoing annual events, educational programming, and training opportunities for persons with disabilities to keep the Willowbrook legacy alive.