The Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association (KSRA) serves individuals with special needs and their families within DeKalb, Ogle, and Kendall County. Following the mission and goals within the organization, the Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association has created structured Therapeutic Recreation activities that assist the participants to progress on their individuals goals set for them by the families and the program team, and the opportunity to increase their community leisure education and living skills within the activities provided. The Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association’s mission is “to serve all residents who have special needs and to facilitate the inclusion of these individuals into leisure programs.” The Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association’s goal is “to serve as a special recreation resource extension of its member park district agencies of DeKalb, Flagg-Rochelle, Genoa Township, Sandwich, and Sycamore.”
The organization started as a collaborative effort with the DeKalb Park District and the DeKalb Special Education Co-Op to provide programming for students in the Special Education program in the district in 1979. The organization accepted the Sycamore Park District as a member agency in 2009 and became DeKalb-Sycamore Association of Special Recreation. In 2011, Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association was created when the Genoa Township Park District joined the membership of Park District agencies. Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association provides therapeutic recreation programs for individuals with special needs of all ages; it operates the Camp Maple Leaf integrated summer day camp, and is a collaborating partner with Opportunity House to support eight Special Olympics sports. The KSRA has served a total of 178 DeKalb residents through the different programming options that it offered in 2015.
The Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association has been guided by Julie A. Eggleston as the Executive Director since 2013. She possesses a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation and a Master of Science degree with an emphasis in Non-Profit Agency Management. She also possesses a current CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) national certification and has had over 10 years of work experience in the Special Populations field and over 20 years of work experience in the Human Services field.
The Therapeutic Recreation Program Coordinator who is in charge of the programming and facilitating the program is Stacy Veldhuizen. Stacy possesses a Bachelor of Science Therapeutic Recreation and also possesses a current CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) national certification and has had over 3 years of work experience in the Special Populations field. The Program Leaders and Assistants are all passionate individuals in the Human Services field and utilizes Northern Illinois University students that will be trained to assist the program as Program Assistants who have not only the scholarly experience in a related Special Populations area but will also have life experiences as well to assist the expert level of staff for the program.
The community-based Therapeutic Recreation programs blossomed into reality as a result of a Needs Assessment conducted in April, 2014. The requests from parents and guardians who have children and adults that reside with them were explored individually and as a focus group. There is an immediate need for this type of programming for this age group and for individuals who are not involved in other Human Services agencies that provide similar services. Through the interviews with parents and guardians, there are minimal options available to their children if they chose to not become involved with other local organizations. The closest organization that offers Therapeutic Recreation programs to their participants facilitated by a CTRS is in Aurora, Illinois – Fox Valley Special Recreation Association. Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association believes that this program offers a unique alternative to the opportunities in the DeKalb County. The program will be able to fulfill this need voiced by DeKalb County residents and will be able to assist the participants in receiving the needed skills to learn how to increase their independence, self-esteem, socialization skills and community leisure education knowledge.
The intended long term impact to the participants in the DeKalb, Kendall, and Ogle County will be to have the participants succeed in their goals that they have set forth to accomplish. The goal is to provide the assistance and support to the participants to enable them to live more independently and to reach their potential within their lives.
The evaluation of the program’s success is to be stated through a program satisfaction survey given to the participants and their parents/guardians after the program ends. The success will also be rated through results in the participants’ achievement of their goals that were set forth through the program team for the individual.
Dawn R. Schaefer MS, CTRS