SEASPAR and St. Francis Xavier School Receive State Honor
SEASPAR and St. Francis Xavier School in LaGrange received the 2012 ITRS Agency of Excellence Award at the Illinois Parks and Recreation State Conference held on January 24 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. This prestigious award is given annually by the Illinois Therapeutic Recreation Section of the state organization.
The two groups have a history of cooperative programming dating back to 2008, when they came together to offer the sixth grade students an opportunity to learn about individuals with disabilities through SEASPAR’s Ability Awareness program. In this program, SEASPAR staff conducts activities at the school which provide insight into what it is like to live with a disability. Following the Ability Awareness presentation, students chose to volunteer and “adopt” specified programs by providing a minimum number of volunteers at weekly programs. Since establishing this concept, the Saint Francis Xavier sixth grade students have been an important part of the SEASPAR community.
In 2010, SEASPAR and St. Francis Xavier planned an event to support the school’s newly-created “Service Day,” an expansion of their school-wide service program. This day provided students with the opportunity to take action by volunteering within the community, one of the components of their program. They decided to implement a special bowling day, as bowling is a favorite activity of many of SEASPAR’s adult participants. The school provided the “volunteers” and SEASPAR provided the bowlers. Students paired up with the SEASPAR bowlers, some bowling alongside their new special friends. For two years, the event was held at Willowbrook Lanes, and this past December the event was held at Suburbanite Bowl in Westmont. Each year, 65-80 6th graders volunteer for this special event, opening them to the world of special needs that they may not have otherwise experienced. Students also donate pies annually for SEASPAR’s Turkey Shoot, and support the Holiday Spectacular, by serving as ushers, providing refreshments, and being enthusiastic spectators.
SEASPAR Executive Director, Susan Friend, stated “I’m grateful to the St. Francis Xavier volunteers and staff for giving SEASPAR this opportunity to provide greater awareness which lead to greater service to the community. It is a wonderful partnership.”
SEASPAR provides year-round recreation services for individuals with disabilities and is an extension of the park districts of Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Lisle, Westmont, and Woodridge, and the villages of Brookfield, Indian Head Park and Western Springs. For further information, call 630/960-7600 (voice) or 630/960-7605 (TDD) or visit www.SEASPAR.org.