The Champaign and Urbana Park Districts welcome participation in all programs and activities by individuals with disabilities and special needs. The Park Districts are committed to inclusion and providing public recreation services in the most integrated setting in which interaction between people with and without disabilities is provided to the maximum extent feasible. The Champaign and Urbana Park Districts work cooperatively with Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) to facilitate successful participation for participants who register for inclusive programming.
Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) was formed through a cooperative agreement with the Champaign and Urbana Park Districts to provide recreation programs and leisure services for residents with disabilities. In addition to providing its own specialized recreation programs for participants with disabilities and special needs, CUSR works with its member park districts in providing inclusive recreation opportunities to residents with disabilities. The Champaign and Urbana Park Districts and CUSR recognize that not every person with a disability wants specialized recreation programming, such as that offered by CUSR, and that each inclusion experience will be unique depending on the program and individual.
This Inclusion Face Sheet has been developed as a general reference guide for families considering the Champaign or Urbana Park District for persons with disabilities and special needs. It is not intended to be comprehensive, all-inclusive, or to address all of the possible applications of , or exceptions to, the general policies and procedures described. Rather, this Fact Sheet contains only general information and guidelines.
The Park Districts are proud of their record of continuing growth and expansion of services offered to individuals with disabilities and special needs, and hope that this information will maximize a positive and successful inclusion experience, and assist families in better understanding the inclusion process and inclusion support services offered by the Park Districts and CUSR.
Inclusion support services may include:
-Providing customized staff training and resources to park district staff;
-Evaluation and modification of program activities;
-Training in the use of adaptive equipment;
-Serving as liaison between the participant’s family and the park district;
-Facilitating and development of a behavior management plan;
-Evaluating and identifying the need for reasonable accommodation(s); and
-Providing an “Inclusion Assistant”
The Inclusion Assistant
In certain circumstances, additional support staff, called “Inclusion Assistants”, are recruited and trained to assist an individual with a disability within the park district setting. The Inclusion Assistant is hired to support the park district recreation program and staff. An Inclusion Assistant is not hired or intended as a private instructor, tutor, caregiver, or respite worker. Inclusion Assistants will ordinarily have a background through education and/or experience and training in working with persons with disabilities. The decision as to whether or not an Inclusion Assistant is necessary is a discretionary decision made on a case-by-case basis by the Park District, in cooperation with CUSR. When provided, Inclusion Assistants are provided at no cost to you. Of course, families must pay the program fees to the park district.
The Inclusion Process
All participants must be able to meet the essential eligibility requirements of the particular program or activity, with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential eligibility requirements of a program/activity may include age, gender, behavior, skill level, residency requirement, registration timeline, etc. Families registering participants with disabilities and special needs should make sure to timely identify any special needs or request for reasonable accommodation on the registration form. When a special need or request for reasonable accommodation is identified, it is often valuable to disclose the corresponding disability. Eligibility requirements will be found in program brochures, registration materials, league rules, codes of conduct, on the web site, and through various other means of communication. You are encouraged to call the Park District with any questions on essential eligibility criteria.
Ordinarily, CUSR will be contacted by the Park District to discuss any support/accommodation(s) your child may need for a successful inclusion experience. If it is determined that an accommodation should be provided, it is important that CUSR have a minimum 2 week notice. Early notification is critical to the inclusion process and facilitation a successful inclusion. Understandably, untimely or incomplete notice to the Park District and/or CUSR may result in temporarily suspending participation pending the ability to adequately assess and address the inclusion needs. Families are encouraged to err on the side of caution and to advise the Park District of any special needs or requests for reasonable accommodation at the front end of the registration process; and at times, even before registration is open to the public.
Participant Behavior Management
It is important to recognize that while CUSR works closely and cooperatively with the Park District to prepare and provide appropriate accommodations, all participants will be expected to comply with Park District behavior guidelines, with or without reasonable accommodation, and to follow the Park District’s Code of Conduct. Please recognize that the Park District and CUSR are separate and distinct entities and that CUSR is working cooperatively with the Park District and not jointly. In other words, Park District programs and activities are separate Park District programs/activities and not joint programs between the Park District and CUSR.
Families who have participated in CUSR’s special recreation programs may note that CUSR’s behavior guidelines are often more lenient, flexible, and/or different than a park district’s behavior guidelines. When registering for park district programs and activities, the rules, regulations, and guidelines of the park district are to be followed. Conduct that may be tolerated in a special recreation setting may be unacceptable in a park district setting.
In assisting any park district in developing and implemented a behavior management strategy, CUSR shares and often recommends the below identified behavior techniques. When Inclusion Partners are provided, the Inclusion Partners will often use these techniques to manage behaviors. Understandably, each situation must be addressed on a case-by-case basis and both park district and CUSR staff must be free to exercise judgement and discretion. With this in mind, below is a list of the most commonly used behavior techniques.
-Positive Reinforcement – verbal praise will be used when appropriate behaviors are witnesses and with the hope that the praise will encourage more of the same behavior.
-Planned ignoring – much behavior is performed for the main purpose of gaining attention, even if that attention is negative. Often, this type of behavior will subside if it is ignored. This is ineffective with any behavior that is unduly disruptive and/or compromises the safety of the child or others.
-Signal Interference – a variety of signals can communicate a feeling of disapproval and control (i.e. eye contact, wave of a finger, tapping, or coughing). This technique works best when used as soon as the behavior begins.
-Proximity Control – physical closeness can provide a child with a sense of security and a protection against anxiety. An adult is a great source of protection and strength, and physical proximity may help the child control his/her impulses.
-Interest Boosting – if a child’s interest in an activity is declining, or s/he is showing signs of boredom or restlessness, it may be helpful for the program leader to show an interest in that child. The leader may ask the child about things of interest to the child.
-Tension Release through Humor – a funny comment or “joking around” can defuse a tense situation or stop a behavior. Staff is careful to not be sarcastic.
-Redirection – this technique attempts to redirect an individual’s attention to a more appropriate task, activity, or conversation. Staff may also ask the individual for assistance as a means of redirecting focus.
-Restructuring – this technique involves changing plans or location. Staff may modify an activity to help the individual experience success without fundamentally altering the activity or program.
Support from Routine – individuals may become anxious without a set routine. A visual schedule of the program’s activities may help alleviate some anxiety.
Direct Appeal – this technique is most effective when the child is comfortable with a staff member. Direct statements are used such as: “you seem angry with me”; or “your friends will be angry with you if you continue to act out and interrupt the game.”
Limiting Space and Tools – it may be very difficult for the teacher/leader to compete with certain objects such as balloons, games, etc. When removing an object a child is obsessed with or overly focused on, the staff member will show an interest in the object and politely ask to see it. Once the teacher/leader has the object, s/he will let the child know that it will be returned when s/he can handle it.
Incentives/Consequences – individualized behavior plans may be developed in order to help participants be successful within the program. Behavior plans may include visual aids such as points or sticker charts. Not all participant require visual aids. Sometimes, a verbal “check in” is effective. At designated check-in times, the staff and participant review progress toward goals for success in the program. At designated times, if the participant is achieving goals, rewards are earned. If progress is not made, a consequence is received. Incentives and consequences must be attainable and developed with input from staff, parents, and participant.
“Break” from activity – when a participant’s behavior has reached a point where the behavior is too disruptive and/or inappropriate, and other techniques are not working, removing the child from the area for a few minutes is often appropriate. This is done not as a punishment, but as a means to remove the participant from the stimulating or triggering environment, to deescalate a difficult situation, and allow a quieter space to refocus energy and attention. Breaks may include such things as going outside to get some fresh air or walking to the drinking fountain for a drink.
When these techniques are not successful in managing behavior(s), the park district, CUSR, and parents/guardians may be asked to meet so that we may collectively explore and discuss alternative measures to assist the participant in meeting behavior expectations. In limited circumstances, participation may be temporarily suspended pending the ability to convene and explore other options.
Inclusion cannot be successful without the complete cooperation of the families involved. Families are expected to politely, proactively, and constructively communicate with staff and share important and updated information that is relevant to the inclusion process. Families must understand and recognize that at times behavior may compromise the safety and well being of the disabled participant, other participants, and/or staff. When families provide inaccurate or incomplete information to the park district or CUSR (or withhold importation information), our ability to adequately assess and address any situation is understandably compromised.
Similarly, families must be polite and receptive to receiving communication and information from park district and CUSR staff. Our goal and commitment is for your child (and all participants) to have an enjoyable, safe, and successful experience. Please treat park district and CUSR staff courteously and respectfully, just as you expect to be treated by staff.
If at any time you have questions or concerns regarding the Inclusion Process, please feel free to contact CUSR’s Inclusion Coordinator, Grace Rolnicki, at 217-239-1152. We look forward to working with you!