Park District joins HISRA

Donelle Pardee Whiting

In an effort to better serve residents with special needs, the Washington Park District joined the Heart of Illinois Special Recreation Association.

Park district executive director Doug Damery said the park board voted to join HISRA in December, but were waiting for final word from the organization.

Damery said the park district wanted to be able to offer programs that target residents with special needs.

The park district will now be able to offer HISRA programming at the resident rate.

Programming includes Special Olympics, social and skill building programs, day camps, fitness and other programs.

All programs and activities are supervised by trained staff who have received an orientation about specifics on disabilities, leadership, safety, program adaptation, first aid, etc., Damery said.

In addition, parents of children with special needs can call HISRA for an inclusion assessment for integration into district programming.

After reviewing a child’s needs, HISRA staff will work to integrate participants, adapt activities and even provide additional staff.

In anticipation of joining the organization, the park district added $53,000 to the tax levy.

This amount was added to the 2007 levy to be collected in 2008. Because the park district is limited on how high it can raise the amount of tax money it receives, it has continually reduced the tax rate during the past several years.

With the recent increase, this year’s tax rate should remain similar to last year’s rate for all Washington Park District property owners, Damery said.