In 2016, SEASPAR celebrates our 40th year of providing dynamic programs and quality recreation services for people with disabilities!
SEASPAR was formed on March 9, 1976, by the park districts of Darien, Downers Grove, Lisle, Westmont, and Woodridge, formalizing their commitment to serve the recreational needs of people with disabilities.
Two years later, the Village of Indian Head Park joined SEASPAR as its first Cook County member. The park districts of Clarendon Hills, La Grange Park, and La Grange joined in the 1980s, and the Village of Western Springs joined in 1990. In 2007, the Village of Brookfield joined SEASPAR, and the newest member, the Lemont Park District, joined in 2014. SEASPAR now provides services to residents of these twelve communities.
SEASPAR began offering recreational programming for individuals with disabilities in December 1976, including weekly programs, special events, and cooperative programming with local schools. This programming remains the core of our activities, but there have been many additions and expansions to our services over the last four decades.
In 1978, SEASPAR began training athletes for the Special Olympics. In 1985, we sent our first athlete to the Special Olympics World Games, Karen Buron, who earned two gold medals in cross-country skiing at the competition. Today, we train athletes in nearly 20 Special Olympics sports each year. Learn more about SEASPAR’s Special Olympics program.
Also in 1978, SEASPAR hosted our first competitive swim meet with other special recreation associations, and in 1980, we hosted our first bowling tournament. Both events were sponsored by the Downers Grove Kiwanis Club and are still hosted annually.
In 1984, SEASPAR began offering inclusion assistance to member park districts, six years before the Americans with Disabilities Act formalized the practice. Today, we provide direct staffing to support the inclusion of approximately 200 individuals with disabilities in member agencies’ programs.
In 1988, SEASPAR established our Drop In Center at the Westmont Community Center to offer leisure opportunities to individuals with mental health needs. The program was recognized with an Excellence in Service award from the from the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) Therapeutic Section. Learn more about the Drop In Center.
Also in 1988, we began hosting a Stroke Support Group in partnership with Hinsdale Hospital, which was recognized by the hospital with a Dedicated Community Organization award. Learn more about the Stroke Support Group.
In 1993, the first adapted sport was offered for individuals with physical disabilities, floor hockey. This adapted activity program has since expanded to include wheelchair table tennis, power soccer, Boccia, music lessons, and more.
In 2005, the SEASPAR Kiwanis Aktion Club was formed in partnership with the KiwanisClubs of Lombard and Downers Grove. Since its creation, the Aktion Club has raised and donated more than $10,000 to nearly 30 charities, and performed service projects for 25 organizations. On its tenth anniversary, it was awarded the Kiwanis International’s Distinguished Club Award for 2014-2015.
In 2008, SEASPAR’s adult day program, EAGLES (Enhancing Adult Growth through Lifestyle Education and Service), was created and housed at the Darien Sportsplex. The program has since expanded to sites in Brookfield and Lisle as well. In 2010, EAGLES received the Outstanding Program Award from the IPRA. Learn more about the EAGLES program.
In 2014, SEASPAR built Wonders, the first multi-sensory room within a municipal building in the country, at the Lisle Recreation Center. Designed to benefit individuals with autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders, Wonders has served more than 1,100 visitors in less than two years. In 2015, Wonders was honored with the Agency Excellence Award from the IPRA Therapeutic Section. Learn more about the Wonders Multi-Sensory Room.
Also in 2014, SEASPAR launched the Home Front Health program for veterans with disabilities in partnership with the Downers Grove Park District. The program has since been expanded to include the Lemont Park District as well. Learn more about the Home Front Health program.
SEASPAR has also been recognized with numerous awards in its 40-year history, including the 1986 National Recreation and Park Association Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, and several awards for our programming from the IPRA and its Illinois Therapeutic Recreation Section.
Since our creation in 1976, SEASPAR has offered nearly 15,000 programs, and individuals with disabilities have spent nearly 2.5 million hours enjoying our services.
To celebrate this rich history, SEASPAR is offering a series of special programs and events for our participants, their families, and the public in 2016:
- Summer Golf Classic – Friday, July 8 at the Village Greens Golf Course in Woodridge. Open to the public.
- Family Pool Party – Sunday, August 28 at the Centennial Outdoor Aquatic Center in Lemont. Open to participants and their families.
- Indian Summer BBQ – Friday, September 9 at Blackhawk Park in Indian Head Park. Open to the public.
- Trivia Challenge – Friday, October 21 at the American Legion in Downers Grove. Open to the public.
- 40th Anniversary Art Show – Thursday, November 3 at the Darien Community Center. Open to the public.
- Holiday Spectacular – Monday, December 5 at the Theatre of Western Springs. Open to the public.
We hope to see you at one or more of our celebrations!