When the Wilmington Baseball and Softball Association opens registration for the 2013 season this weekend, the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association will be there to bring activities to an underserved segment of the community - special needs children and adults.
The Wilmington Island Park District joined the association late last year and included special recreation purposes in its tax levy in December. As a member of the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (LWSRA), the Island Park District can offer its residents who have physical or mental disabilities programming and recreational opportunities appropriate to their needs and abilities.
According to Tami Pareti, senior recreation specialist at LWSRA, the association serves individuals from age three through adulthood. Any child who has an individual education program at school can participate, as can any adult with special needs. The special populations served by the association include individuals who are learning disabled, physically or visually impaired, who have multiple disabilities, who are educably mentally handicapped, trainable mentally handicapped or who have other special needs.
LWSRA tries to place participants in programs according to their disability, age and peer group.
The association has a Challenger Little League program for children age 9 through 15, and Pareti will sign up qualifying youngsters who wish to participate.
The Challenger softball league teams play other local special needs teams; one game each Thursday evening from mid-May to the end of July. The LWSRA home field is Stonebridge Park, at 1699 Nelson Road in New Lenox, and the team does travel to meet opponents on their home fields.
This year LWSRA added a T-Ball league for children age 6 through 8, which offers them an introduction to softball. The program will be held Thursdays from mid-May to mid-June, at the Stonebridge Park fields.
As residents of an association member, Wilmington families pay $100 to participate in Challenger Little League, and $60 to play T-Ball. Signing up is similar to signing up for any other park district program; there's a registration form and an annual information sheet to fill out, and a fee to pay.
LWSRA offers a variety of other activities, from adult social events like dances, to bowling, summer day camp and Boy Scouting. There are also events that the whole family can participate in. The association also makes it possible for the Island Park District's programs to be adapted for an individual who can be included in the fun if there's a little help along the way.
"We have a strong adaptive program for those who are physically handicapped," Pareti said.
The Wilmington Baseball and Softball Association signups will be held Friday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 26, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Stevens Intermediate School, 221 Ryan St., Wilmington (the old middle school). Pareti will bring brochures for the association's winter and spring activities and help with program registrations.
For additional information about the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association, visit www.lwsra.org, or call 815-464-2811.