On the Record

Providing inclusion

On the Record with Julie Eggleston

Julie Eggleston
Julie Eggleston

DeKALB – Julie Eggleston describes herself as a caring person because she comes from a family that has always helped others. Her mom was a special education teacher, her dad was a human resource director at a hospital and each of her six sisters volunteer and give back to their communities.

Eggleston uses her selfless drive and humanitarianism to help people with and without disabilities feel included as the executive director of the Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association.

The Kishwaukee SRA is a nonprofit organization that serves as an extension of its member park districts: DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Sandwich and Flagg-Rochelle. Its mission is to serve all residents who have a disability and to facilitate the inclusion of these individuals into leisure programs.

To help raise scholarship money for programs and program assistance for people with disabilities, the Kishwaukee SRA will host the second annual Spring Forward for Accessibility Fundraiser on Friday.

The fundraiser will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Hopkins Park Terrace Room, 1403 Sycamore Road in DeKalb. The evening will include music, games, a wine and beer pull, silent auction, raffles, food and a cash bar.

Tickets to the fundraiser for a four-person team cost $60 in advance or $80 at the door. Individual tickets cost $20 in advance and $30 at the door. For more information about the event, call 779-777-7285.

Eggleston met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss the Kishwaukee SRA and the fundraiser.

Milton: What is the Kishwaukee SRA?

Eggleston: We are a nonprofit, community-based recreation therapy organization that helps provides programs and assistance for programs to five local park districts: DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Sandwich and Flagg-Rochelle. We are a strong disability resource to the community. We are an extension of the park districts and provide disability awareness, training and inclusion services.

Milton: Describe how the Kishwaukee SRA works with park districts.

Eggleston: If a person with a need registers for a class at a park district, we step in to ask them what they need. We always want to offer inclusion. Maybe they need a companion or individual help. We will work with the person, their family and the park district so that the person is able to be included and participate.

Milton: What is the Kishwaukee SRA’s main goal?

Eggleston: Our core goal is inclusion. We want to help people with disabilities participate in park district programs to the best of their ability and with the least restrictions. For them to be able to have fun and learn the same skills as their peers while standing next to them is amazing.

Milton: Tell me about programs the Kishwaukee SRA offers.

Eggleston: In addition to helping park districts, we also offer programs for ages 4 to adult, people with all kinds of disabilities and special needs. Programs are year-round, with something happening almost every single day. Most programs are offered after 6 p.m. No programs are offered on Sundays because that’s a day off for family time. We have Friendship Fridays, a social night, fundamentals of art and an art show, therapeutic horseback riding, fitness classes, cooking classes, dances and sports.

Milton: Tell me about the upcoming fundraiser.

Eggleston: It is our second annual “fun-raiser.” It is sports themed, with teams of four often dressing in sports garb: jerseys and T-shirts of their favorite teams. There will be three rounds. The first round is sports trivia. The second is a dance contest, a Price is Right-style game and Rockstar, a large rock, paper, scissors game. Round three is a P-I-G basketball contest. There will be food and a cash bar, a wine and beer pull, raffles and a silent auction. We have a lot of great prizes, including a grand prize of a tour of three local park district golf courses with a round of golf and a golf cart at each course.

Milton: How will the money raised be used?

Eggleston: All of our fundraising efforts help with our scholarship fund. The fund helps make programs as affordable as possible. These families are already struggling to pay for medical and therapy bills. With our scholarship fund, programs can be up to a maximum of 50 percent off.

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