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Naperville Park District’s Janinne Baiardo Honored with Emily Town Memorial Inclusion Award

At an awards presentation at the Naperville Park District on November 6, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) honored Naperville Park District Community Relations Associate Janinne Baiardo with the 2018 Emily Town Memorial Inclusion Award.

WDSRA partners with the Park District to offer one-to-one assistance for individuals with special needs who participate in Park District programs. These “inclusion services” are designed to provide the least restrictive environment and the maximum opportunity to participate in regular programs.

Tammy Kerrins, Manager of Inclusion and Maddy Kirui, Inclusion Supervisor for WDSRA explained that the award “acknowledges the ongoing support of an individual or group who is an outstanding advocate for the inclusion movement, gets others involved with the inclusion process, shares a desire to see individuals who have special needs interact along with their peers and promotes the benefits of this service.” 

Janinne Baiardo is the Naperville Park District employee who handles all inclusion requests for the District. Additionally, in her personal life, she is a volunteer puppy raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind, a nonprofit organization that provides dogs to assist the blind or visually impaired.

 “Janinne does an outstanding job assisting with the coordination of inclusion services available to Naperville families through WDSRA,” said Director of Recreation Brad Wilson.   “We’re extremely proud of all that she does to support the special needs community, both professionally and personally.”

Kerrins and Kirui explained during the award presentation that Baiardo consistently goes above and beyond expectations in helping individuals and in streamlining processes to help WDSRA and other park districts better serve families with special needs. “The award winner proactively reaches out to new recipients, and her incredible attention to detail enhances the experiences of Naperville residents who have a special need,” they said.

The Emily Town Award honors Emily Town, a dedicated, part-time employee of WDSRA who passed away in 1995 and had kept a journal regarding the child she assisted in an inclusion setting.


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Funds raised through the Naperville Parks Foundation support the Naperville Park District’s Fee Assistance Program. The Naperville Parks Foundation supports the recreation needs and desires of the residents of Naperville – encouraging health and wellness, fitness, family time, and fun. The Foundation supports the mission of making recreation of all kinds accessible to everyone across the community, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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