Local Associations Get Seniors out and About

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Local Associations Get Seniors out and About


Byline: Jean Murphy

Mom sees a listing in the local park district brochure for a trip that she would love to take. But she chooses to skip it because she is confined to a wheelchair and knows she needs someone to push her, and none of her adult children are available during the day.

What a sad state of affairs for both Mom, who ends up sitting at home, and for her children, who feel guilty they cannot accompany her on such trips.

But this scenario does not need to happen in Illinois, thanks to the network of special recreation associations that crisscross the state, said Tammy Kerrins, inclusion manager for the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association. The association, based in Carol Stream, supports park districts in Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Roselle and Warrenville.

"They have paid their taxes for years so they should be able to go on any trip offered by their park district and receive the assistance they need to have the best experience possible when participating," Kerrins said.

"All they need to do is sign up through their home park district and indicate that they need special recreation accommodations and, when needed, a paid, specially-trained staff member from the local special recreation association will be assigned to go along and help.

Some of the more common needs include assistance cutting up their food, pushing a wheelchair or assisting in the restroom. There is no additional cost for the service," she said.

"The SRA staff member is there to make the participant's experience in the park district trip or program as successful as possible," Kerrins said.

Western DuPage SRA only has about four regular patrons for this inclusion service, with the oldest one being 92.

"We don't have a ton of usership of this service because most seniors don't seem to realize that it is available to them. Instead, seniors disabled by vision impairments, strokes and other problems tend to stop doing things unless their children can accompany them, and that is a shame," Kerrins said.

"If we get some demand, we would also like to develop more programs for seniors with acquired disabilities like lunch groups. If we get enough requests, we will certainly test it

because we want to be responsive to the needs of our clients. We even work with the Northeast DuPage SRA on a tandem bike program for people with visual impairments," she said. …

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