Franklin Park group provides recreation for people with disabilities
Michael Volgarino brings the ball up the court for the Bobcats Blue team at a game in Glen Ellyn. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
The West Suburban Special Recreation Association is accepting registration for its spring programs and summer day camp for children with special education needs and adults with disabilities.
The agency provides community-based therapeutic recreation for residents of Norridge, Harwood Heights, Oak Park, River Forest, Elmwood Park and the Park District of Franklin Park.
The deadline to enter the lottery for day camp registration is Feb. 8.
Sports, fitness, bowling, social excursion, Special Olympics and swim programs are some of the program offerings. New participants are always welcome.
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:04AM
FRANKLIN PARK — Some people have a harder time than others developing social skills.
It can be even more of a challenge for people who learn differently. In their case, developing those skills sometimes requires unique techniques.
Consider it all part of the package at the West Suburban Special Recreation Association, where it’s more than just fun and games. Besides providing recreational activities for adults and children with disabilties, the association also offers that crucial social interaction.
The Franklin Park-based organization also serves residents of Norridge, Harwood Heights, Elmwood Park, Oak Park and River Forest.
The association has provided an outlet for Michael Volgarino of Harwood Heights for years.
“He loves it there,” said his mother, Mary. “From my experience, it’s a matter of how you relate to people.”
In the early years, he needed the recreational opportunities, which are provided in a supportive environment.
“That’s the best thing they provide,” Volgarino said “And the staff always is coming up with all kinds of new ideas.”
In that environment, Michael Volgarino has learned to take more of a leadership role.
“He’s matured emotionally,” Mary Volgarino said. “It’s been a growing experience for me, too.”
Michael Saavedra has been involved in WSSRA since preschool.
Just recently, the Norridge resident has gone horseback riding, ice-skating and overnight camping.
“They’re just fabulous,” said his mother, Sharon Schneider. “They have helped him so much socially.”
Maryellen Bilek, outreach specialist, described Michael as a curious child who always looks for fun and new things to explore.
“He likes one-on-one attention,” she said. “Michael has fun with WSSRA, but we also help him reach his potential simultaneously.”
Staff work with him on speech and motor skills, impulse control and social skills as well as learning to wait one’s turn, to follow directions and to respect others.
Schneider credited the improvement in her son’s social skills to the care given by WSSRA staff.
“They go that extra mile,” she said. “Maryellen will tell me about any programs she thinks Michael will benefit from, and which ones that aren’t a good fit for him.”
She praised staff for catering to each individual.
“They’re very accommodating.”