NISRA - Nothern Illinois Special Recreation Association
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NISRA offers a wide range of recreation programs throughout the year, for all ability levels and ages, from early childhood through seniors.

Summer Day Camps

Summer day camps give children and teens a chance to make friends, try new activities and simply have fun! Full day camps are offered, along with half day camps in conjunction with some summer school programs. Each camp's individual website page is available in late spring & during camp.

campers bouncing in the Moon Walk

Adult Transition Program: LIFE

LIFE (Leisure Increases Freedom & Enjoyment) is a year round life skills program, using community-based recreation activities to develop skills and enhance quality of life for young adults with a disability. Participants plan and actively participate in fitness activities, cooking meals, scheduling field trips and doing service projects, as well as other leisure-time experiences.

The program is designed to meet the needs of young adults, ages 22-35, with a mild to moderate cognitive disability. The program will be staffed with a 1:5 participant ratio. For more information, click here for a program brochure including the eligibility requirements.  For additional information on the LIFE program or to begin the registration/application process, please contact Emily at the NISRA office. 
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Weekly Programs

preschooler playing in tunnel

Early Childhood/Young Children:

Parent/child classes, sensory/motor development classes, and mini-camps stimulate the sensory development, social skills, and learning of young children. Parents enjoy getting acquainted with other parents.


staff helping young girl learn to ride a bike




A wide array of activities for children get them moving, exploring, and making friends. Sports such as swimming, bowling, baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, karate, learn to ride a bike, ice skating, fishing, and horseback riding offer opportunities to develop skills and learn the rules of the sport in a nurturing environment. Cultural arts such as; private music lessons, pet play, art classes, dance, and outings to live performances introduce young people to creativity and culture.

young man & staff at the bookstore



Teens/Young Adults/Adults:

Sports, adapted sports, cultural arts, cooking, social clubs, fitness, and outdoor adventure activities challenge teens and adults to try new activities and make choices for the ones they will enjoy for a lifetime.




Special Events

young adults riding a rollercoaster

One day outings to local and regional sites offer fun on holidays, school days off, and other days throughout the year. NISRA staff and participants explore many of Chicagoland's newest recreation attractions.





group picture from Colorado Camping Trip


Trips to destinations throughout the Midwest and the U.S. expose groups of teens and adults to places they may never have visited, sights & scenery, and history. Trips range from tent camping to hotel getaways, even cruises.







Special Olympics basketball team and coach in huddle

Special Olympics

NISRA provides Special Olympics training programs in numerous sports for children, ages 8 & older, and adults with intellectual disabilities. Individual athletes and teams compete locally, and in Special Olympics Illinois competition at the Area, District, and State levels.






Adapted Sports

teen boy with assistive devices playing golf


NISRA joins with other agencies to host clinics and competition for youth and adults experiencing physical limitations. A few wheelchair sports and adapted sports for ambulatory athletes are offered.






NISRA staff assists residents with disabilities in the Association's 13 member communities with inclusion into their home park district or recreation department programs. Types of assistance may include provision of adapted equipment, securing and training additional staff or sign language assistance, program modification plans and training member district staff in various accommodations.


Healthy Minds Healthy Bodies

NISRA facilitates a free program for veteran service members who qualify by having an Honorable Discharge & at least a 10% disability rating or post service injury/illness equivalent. Qualified veterans receive, at no charge: one year fitness membership for the veteran & a partner at a park district fitness center (currently Cary, Dundee Township, Huntley or Wauconda), 15 personal training sessions with a qualified trainer, and monthly networking/social events.


Behavior expectations in all NISRA Programs
Although NISRA recognizes that many participants have special behavioral challenges, guidelines have been established to ensure safety and enjoyment of all particpants. The Behavior Code of Conduct expects participants to:
a) Show respect to all participants and staff, and take direction from staff.
b) Refrain from using abusive or foul language.
c) Refrain from causing bodily harm to self, other participants and staff.
d) Show respect for equipment, supplies, and facilities.
A positive approach will be used regarding discipline. NISRA will work closely with parents/guardians to develop behavior management plans. If inappropriate, disruptive or destructive behavior occurs, a prompt resolution will be sought. NISRA reserves the right to suspend or dismiss any participant whose behavior endangers the safety of him/herself or others.

NISRA occasionally takes photographs or video of participants for promoting/advertising our programs, services, events, activities, and facilities in our brochures, website or agency social media, member district publications, and other promotional avenues. By registering for, participating in or attending NISRA programs, events, or other activities, the participant (or parent/guardian of a minor participant) irrevocably agrees to the use and distribution by NISRA of his or her image (or of his minor child/ward) in photographs, video recordings, and any other electronic reproductions of such programs, events and activities for any purpose without inspection or approval and without compensation, rights to royalties or any other consideration now and in the future. The participant’s identity is kept anonymous unless permission is obtained by NISRA to identify the person.