WDSRA offers year round recreation programming to individuals with disabilities in nine communities in Western DuPage County. Illinois has the 10th highest Latino population in the US, many located in and around the Chicagoland area. West Chicago, located in DuPage County, is home to a large Latino community. According to current census information for West Chicago residents, 51.1% are Hispanic and 55.0% speaks a language other than English at home. The Census also estimates that over 10% of the West Chicago lives below the poverty level. Through an informal analysis, we identified Hispanic residents with disabilities in West Chicago were being underserved and began to seek opportunities to better serve this community.
Through our analysis, we identified a current need in West Chicago for Hispanic children with Autism and their families. Specifically, the need to provide a structured recreational program for Hispanic children with Autism whose parents were attending an established parent support group. The project is a collaboration with Pediatric Health Associates, Caremark Foundation and PANNA (Padres Ayudando Nuestros Ninos con Autismo or Parents helping their children with Autism). The support group created a challenge for parents since there was nothing offered for the children with Autism while the parents attended the support group.
WDSRA would like to offer a recreational program specifically designed for Hispanic children with Autism starting in January 2013. This program would take place at the West Chicago Park District every Wednesday night year round at the same time as the Parent Support group is conducted. This drop in style program will provide structured play, skill development, and recreational activities. It will be staffed by Spanish speaking personnel and volunteers trained on working with children with Autism.