Tracy Crawford is the Executive Director of the Northwest Special Recreation Association.  The NWSRA provides outstanding opportunities through recreation for children and adults with disabilities.
 
Today we welcomed back Assistant District Governor Tamiye Meehan.  But really, can we consider her a regular attendee at this point instead of a guest?  
 
Tracy Crawford was our speaker.  Tracy is the Executive Director of the Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA).  The NWSRA works with park districts from 17 communities to provide outstanding recreation opportunities for people with disabilities.  (Tracy makes sure the 'outstanding' gets emphasized).  It is the largest of 32 special recreations association in Illinois.  Illinois is a leader in providing these services, despite the fact that they are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  To ensure coverage of the entire state, the various associations are built to mirror special education districts.
 
The NWRSA has services for people of all ages.  Generally, 2 years-old is the youngest because that is often when special needs are diagnosed.  Seniors are actually the fastest growing segment of their customer base.  Improved medical care has extended the life expectancies of people with some conditions by decades. However, it also leads to situations called 'double diagnosis' where people who have lived with a specific disability (Downs, for example) are living long enough to develop other cognitive ailments such as Alzheimers.  Although they still need recreation services, these new developments present unique challenges to the NWSRA staff.  
 
The NWSRA is funded indirectly through tax dollars.  Their member park districts pay annual membership fees.  They also rely on effective fund raising to round out their budget which includes 42 full time staff.  The NWSRA's biggest challenge is providing transportation to their patrons.  To meet that challenge, they have a 22 vehicle fleet which provides home service to those in need.  
 
The NWSRA meets the needs of families throughout the northwest suburbs.  Without them, the lives of countless people would be much more difficult and much less joyful (and healthy).  
 

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