FVSRA Creates Unique Collaborations to Empower People with Special Needs

One of three WDSRA social clubs gathers in person to participate in a FVSRA digital dance party.

AURORA – When the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to have no end in sight, the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association (FVSRA) knew people with special needs were experiencing isolation not only in their service area, but throughout Chicagoland.

As 100% of FVSRA’s life-changing therapeutic programs were successfully meeting online, they invited other special recreation associations (SRAs) in Illinois to share resources and make a greater impact.

"When SRAs come together and work collaboratively, the benefits are immediate. Cooperative programs like our Digital Dance Nights and Trivia Nights maximize opportunities for the disability community to step outside their typical social circle and meet new people,” says FVSRA’s Superintendent of Recreation, Jackie Salemi. “They allow us as a service provider to maximize efforts and capitalize on the talent and expertise of other Certified Therapeutic Recreation Professionals.”

Inter-agency collaborations, like one held on May 7, where Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) and two other SRAs joined a FVSRA digital dance party, have created unique opportunities to empower people with special needs.

“Dances are one of THE most popular programs at WDSRA. Our participants love dancing, listening to music, and being able to socialize with their peers. When FVSRA contacted us to join in on their virtual dance party I didn’t give it a second thought,” says WDSRA Program Supervisor Katie Lyter. “This was perfect for our WDSRA social clubs. We had 3 different social clubs joining in on the fun at 3 separate locations.”

FVSRA’s contribution in collaborative programming was recognized by the Therapeutic Recreation Section of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association in 2021. Other collective recipients of the Outstanding Special Event of the Year Award include Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA), Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA), and Warren Special Recreation Association (WSRA).

Salemi adds, “Through a shared vision and passion for meeting the needs of all, inter-agency collaborations lend way to innovative and impactful recreation programming."

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