NWSRA Historical Timeline

NWSRA provides outstanding recreational programming for children and adults with disabilities in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

This timeline highlights some of the major accomplishments and partnerships built throughout the years, creating hundreds of thousands of fun memories for children and adults with disabilities since 1974.

1969-01-01 09:18:22

SRA Legislation Introduced

Senator Harris Falwell (R) introduces legislation into the Illinois Senate to allow the creation of Special Recreation Associations (SRA's). A SRA can be formed by two or more units of local government in Illinois. These entities develop a joint agreement outlining their intent to provide recreation services for people with disabilities. Other elements in a joint agreement include the manner in which the services will be funded and delivered, the establishment of a governing board for the association, and other rules and protocol deemed appropriate by the member boards.

1973-11-01 20:06:38

Pioneer Park Becomes First NWSRA Home

Upon hire, Kevin Kendrigan moved his office into Pioneer Park to begin preparations for the first NWSRA program.

1973-12-01 12:06:41

Kevin T. Kendrigan Hired as NWSRA Director

A partnership of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, Mount Prospect, Palatine, River Trails, Rolling Meadows, Salt Creek, and Wheeling formed to ensure recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. The Directors from each Park District voted to select Kevin T. Kendrigan as the first NWSRA Director.

1973-12-01 20:06:38

Ron Dodd Selected as First Chairman of the Board

1974-01-14 00:00:00

The first NWSRA program begins

Ice Skating serves as NWSRA's first program, beginning in January 1974. Kevin Kendrigan and Gerry Bartnicke partnered to implement this program.

1974-05-01 18:54:58

Staff members are hired

NWSRA began with three full time staff: Kevin T. Kendrigan, Darla Kay, Dolores Swenson.

1974-05-14 10:51:24

NWSRA moves to olympic pool

NWSRA finds its home at Olympic Pool, 660 N. Ridge, Arlington Heights

1974-06-23 18:54:58

NWSRA hosts its first Summer Day Camps

Camps are held in 3 locations throughout the partner Park Districts from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

1974-09-09 05:05:52

First lineup of weekly programs offered

Bowling, guitar, ballet and more highlighted the fall lineup of weekly programs. In addition, special events like the Halloween Spooktacular and Christmas party served as some of the first special events. Kevin Kendrigan played Santa at the Christmas party, and one of the children recognized him because he was wearing "Kevin's shoes"- not Santa's boots!

1975-01-21 18:54:58

Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg Join NWSRA

NWSRA grows as Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg Park Districts become partners toward providing outstanding recreational programming to individuals with disabilities.

1975-05-01 21:05:54

Townships contribute funds

In order to ensure NWSRA's viability, surrounding Townships including Wheeling, Palatine, Elk Grove and Schaumburg provide funding to assist in the provision of recreational programs for people with disabilities.

1975-09-22 00:31:54

Public Law 94-142

Public Law 94-142 ensured that students requiring specialized educational opportunities would have individual education plans developed that would allow them to remain within their home community. Many of these students have come to participate in NWSRA Leisure Education programs. The federal law allowed for greater cooperation to be developed between the park district joint agreement and school district educational agreement. This relationship has remained strong for the 40 year history of NWSRA.

1976-01-01 13:03:14

Adult Participation Grows

Relationships developed with Meadows, Riverside, Countryside and Clearbrook leads to increased participation in adult programs such as Social Clubs, with large scale dances at member park district gymnasiums being held.

1976-02-01 22:56:30

Prospect Heights Joins NWSRA

Prospect Heights becomes the 13th Park District to join NWSRA

1976-02-24 18:54:58

First NWSRA Advisory Group Meeting held

The first meeting of the NWSRA Advisory Group is held to receive input and exchange ideas with parents, teachers, community facility staff members, etc. to improve programs and extended services.

1976-06-01 12:05:27

Leisure Education Programs Begin

NWSRA partners with local school districts to provide leisure education for students with disabilities.

1977-01-01 13:02:38

Transportation Begins

A NWSRA van begins its transportation service in programs such as After School Weekly Bowling, a trip to "Old Chicago" an indoor amusement park, skiing and more.

1977-05-01 09:04:22

Articles of Agreement entered into by member Park Districts

Fourteen member Park District entered into Articles of Agreement to "set the stage" for defining the partnership between the Park Districts and NWSRA.

1977-05-01 22:02:26

Streamwood Park District Joins NWSRA

Streamwood Park District becomes the 14th Park District to join NWSRA.

1977-06-01 12:05:27

First Short Trip

Two van loads of approximately 30 travelers take their first trip with NWSRA as they head to St. Louis to see the Arch, Busch Stadium and the world-famous St. Louis Zoo!

1977-06-20 13:33:52

First Pre-School Day Camp is offered

Through a collaboration with School District 54, pre-school day camp for 3-5 year olds is held at Addams Junior High School. Other Pre-school camps are offered at Frontier Park in Arlington Heights and at Dempster Junior High School in Mount Prospect.

1977-12-28 20:04:11

First Long Trip

NWSRA is among the first in the nation to undertake this type of programming through community-based recreation. NWSRA invites NSSRA and Maine-Niles to join in as a group of 50 travelers head to Orlando, FL.

1978-01-21 22:02:26

NWSRA hosts ski weekend at Villa Olivia

Twelve skiiers headed to Villa Olivia in Bartlett and stayed in cabins overnight at Sunrise Lake Camp. This event was held for individuals with hearing impairments.

1978-10-01 22:02:26

Lighted School House Concept

NWSRA partners with various local schools and public agencies to utilize their buildings for recreational programs in order to provide longer and more diverse programs.

1979-02-12 22:02:26

Jewel Food Stores hosts benefit day for NWSRA

One of the first fundraising endeavors for NWSRA, Jewel provided a donation based on the number of shoppers turning in their Benefit Days coupon to the store.

1979-06-20 22:02:26

Five year NWSRA Master Plan is Implemented

The NWSRA Member Park District Trustees collaborate to create a five year master plan, outlining goals for the organization. NWSRA Board Chairman Cecily Sypult, of River Trails Park District, stated "the Association has been developing a five year master plan that will enable us to present consistent quality leisure services."

1979-08-01 21:02:50

Overnights at Sunrise

NWSRA partners with NSSEO to run week-long overnight camps in August separately for children and adults, including bowling, outdoor cooking, nature activities and more at Sunrise Camp in Bartlett.

1979-09-10 13:03:07

First Golf Outing Fundraiser For NWSRA

Mount Prospect's Emil Esposito Outing serves as NWSRA's first golf outing fundraiser. A partnership with Mount Prospect Park District Golf Pro Emil Esposito helps create the first of many golf outing fundraisers to come.

1980-01-01 21:02:35

First Agency Showcase

The first Agency Showcase features the "Berkley Players". This event "set the stage" for future performers sing, dance, and wow many audiences for years to come. The creative, dynamic efforts of full time staff member Renee Leicht bring this event to life.

1980-01-01 21:08:34

NWSRA moves to palatine

NWSRA relocates to 262 E. Palatine Rd., which had previously been the Palatine Park District's Administrative Offices.

1980-06-04 21:08:34

A Day at the Races

NWSRA transported participants to its first annual "Day at the Races" at the Arlington Park Race Track.

1980-11-07 21:08:34

SLSF Incorporated

SLSF is incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois as provided by the "General Not For Profit Corporation Act".

1981-01-01 21:08:34

SLSF recognized as the fundraising arm of NWSRA

Originally named "Special Leisure Services" and with the tagline "A Special Recreation Foundation for Disabled Individuals", SLSF was formed to support NWSRA programs and opportunities.

1981-11-11 21:08:34

NWSRA wins National Gold Medal Award

For excellence in the field of Parks and Recreation Management, NWSRA was awarded the National Gold Medal Award by The Sports Foundation, Inc.

1982-11-09 04:01:12

Integrated Programming begins

A precursor to more formal Inclusion Programs that began in August 1992, NWSRA would accompany and work with participants with special needs in partner park district programs such as Martial Arts, snow skiing and more.

1983-06-01 09:18:22

Life. Be in it.

NWSRA partners with the "Life. Be in it." Company to market its programs on brochures and flyers, encouraging children and adults with disabilities to register for the great programs NWSRA had to offer.

1984-01-01 09:18:22

NWSRA Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Over the course of 10 years, NWSRA grew from three programs serving 23 individuals to over 250 programs and 2,700 individuals.

1984-08-01 09:18:22

Cooperative agreement with NSSEO

NWSRA enters into a formal cooperative agreement with NSSEO to utilize Kirk School, an exceptional multi-purpose school facility in Palatine, as well as Sunrise Lake in Bartlett.

1985-01-01 12:59:33

NWSRA Moves to Rolling Meadows

Office is relocated from Palatine to the Rolling Meadows Community Center in Rolling Meadows

1985-10-09 09:18:22

Fun & Games with Computers

NWSRA offers its first computer related recreational program called "Fun & Games with Computers". This pilot program was held in Rolling Meadows and conducted by the Adventure Unlimited Company with cooperation from the NWSRA staff. Participants learned basics of computer programming and was geared toward students with learning disabilities.

1986-04-30 09:18:22

SLSF donates accessible vehicle to nwsra

With donations from the Suburban Handicapped Service League and H.B. Fuller, SLSF purchased a 15 passenger wheelchair accessible vehicle for NWSRA.

1987-01-01 12:58:12

SLSF Makes a Difference

Through funds raised, SLSF helped to build adaptive playgrounds in Hoffman Estates and Arlington Heights. These projects were completed in partnership with the Hoffman Estates Park District and Arlington Heights Park Districts.

1987-05-15 09:18:22

Fairlanes Bowl receives Facility of the Year Award

For excellence in service to NWSRA programs, Fairlanes Bowl received the Facility of the Year Award.

1987-10-02 09:18:22

NWSRA hosts New Program Wallyball

Held at the Hoffman Estates Park District Willow Recreation Center, athletes played on Friday nights. From the 1987 Fall brochure: "Wallyball is a relatively new sport played similar to volleyball only played in a racquetball court."

1988-01-01 09:18:22

Homebound Program begins

To accommodate individuals unable to participate in NWSRA throughout the community, it began to offer a 1:1 program. A full-time staff member performed an initial home visit to determine the individual's needs and interests, and introduced recreational activities of interest to the individual.

1988-07-08 12:57:43

Success In Numbers

By 1988, NWSRA served over 750 participants in 95 weekly programs, 350 in day camp and 200 in trips and overnights.

1989-04-01 09:04:22

NWSRA Athletes compete in 1989 International Winter Special Olympics Games

Athletes Amy Hutchison (figure skating) and Jackie Olichwier (Alpine skiing), accompanied by NWSRA coach Jim Wiseman, represented the Illinois delegation to the International Games, held in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. Team alternates included Mark Mitalo (Alpine skiing) and Alissa Weisgram (Alpine skiing).

1989-10-01 09:04:22

NWSRA wins National Gold Medal Award

NWSRA was selected as the 1989 winner of the Special Recreation Gold Medal Award, in the Class I Division, serving populations of 250,000 or more. The prestigious award was presented at the 1989 Congress of the National Recreation and Park Association.

1989-11-20 09:04:22

Bartlett Park District Joins NWSRA

NWSRA welcomes the Bartlett Park District as its 15th Partner Park District, opening the doors to outstanding opportunities through recreation for Bartlett residents with disabilities.

1990-07-26 02:03:17

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), authored the bill and was its chief sponsor in the Senate. It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush.

NWSRA Historical Timeline

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