As International Day of Acceptance approaches, District 58 celebrates inclusivity, partnerships

international day of acceptanceInternational Day of Acceptance is Sunday, Jan. 20. This annual day celebrates and promotes the social acceptance of disability. District 58 is proudly committed to providing an inclusive learning environment for all students. The District offers a wide variety of special services and hires highly-qualified certified staff and specialists to meet all learner needs.

“We are exceptionally proud of our special programs and services offered in District 58, and of the growth and learning of all of our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli.

Of note, during the last five years, District 58 expanded its Developmental Learning Program (DLP) and Behavioral, Emotional and Social Training (BEST) programs. The District also launched a program specially designed for students with developmental delays, Autism Spectrum Disorder and related characteristics, called the RISE program. RISE stands for Reaching Independence through Structured Education. Each of these programs serves students with significant needs. They also allow more students to be educated in an in-district setting, rather than in outplacement programs.

“District 58 has an organized continuum of services to ensure each child is well served in the least restrictive environment, allowing as many students as possible to still participate in general education classes and enjoy the District 58 experience,” said Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Jessica Stewart.

An inclusive learning environment goes beyond the classroom. District 58’s budget funds necessary safety and routine playground maintenance at all elementary schools. Several PTAs, local organizations and individual donors have partnered with the District to raise money to fund either more significant renovations or to rebuild school playgrounds to enhance their accessibility for children of all abilities.

“District 58 is very proud of our partnerships and appreciative of our community support,” Stewart said. “We are fortunate to live in a community that values inclusivity and the importance of active play!”

dsc_3208In 2016, District 58’s Hillcrest School opened the first inclusive public school playground in DuPage County, thanks largely to support from the Dream Build Play Experience and individual donors. The Dream Build Play Experience is a nonprofit co-founded by District 58 parent Peg Chaidez that helps communities design, fundraise and build inclusive playgrounds.

In 2017, Whittier School opened an upgraded playground, and Lester School is currently fundraising with the Dream Build Play Experience, with the goal of opening a new playground in summer 2019.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Lester Community Playground Project and bring another inclusive playground to Downers Grove,” Chaidez said. “Kids love to play and be active. This playground will allow kids of all abilities to play with their peers, without limitations.”

Chaidez added that, once completed, the new Lester inclusive playground will feature a poured rubber surface and fully-accessible ramps for wheelchair access.

In addition, Belle Aire, El Sierra, Henry Puffer, Highland and Kingsley are all in the midst of playground initiatives. Click on the school names above to learn more about these playground projects and opportunities to get involved.

For more information about District 58 special services, please visit https://dg58.org/special-services/.

Requests for more information or media inquiries may be directed to Megan Hewitt, community relations coordinator, at 630-719-5805 or mhewitt@dg58.org.