Suburban Mosaic: Huntley first responders create program for people with developmental disabilities

  • Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin reads a proclamation for Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month recognizing Sikhs' rich history and contributions to American society and Chicago-area communities.

    Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin reads a proclamation for Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month recognizing Sikhs' rich history and contributions to American society and Chicago-area communities. Courtesy of City of Aurora

  • Gowri Magati

    Gowri Magati

Updated 4/25/2022 6:05 AM

Huntley first responders have launched a new program to help improve interactions with community members with developmental disabilities and their caregivers.

The Huntley Police Department, Huntley Fire Protection District and Southeast Emergency Communications (SEECOM) have created the Sensory-Friendly Accessible First Responder Experience (S.A.F.E.) Huntley. The program was designed in partnership with Options and Advocacy to provide an inclusive environment for community members who might not be at ease at events including large crowds, loud noises and flashing lights.


Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Scott Ravagnie said if people have a chance to get comfortable with first responders in a relaxed setting, it can be easier for them to work together during an emergency.

The program will be held May 14 at the Huntley Area Public Library, 11000 Ruth Road. Participants may sign up for one of two available sessions, from 10 a.m. to noon or 1 to 3 p.m. Registration is required.

To make attending easier for people with developmental disabilities and/or sensory processing issues, registration will be limited to 40 participants per session, sounds will be minimized, lighting will be dimmed and no flashing or strobe lights will be used. There will be fidget toys, coloring stations, yoga balls and floor mats for participants who need sensory inputs. A quiet room will be available for anyone who may need a break from the activities.

"It is our hope that this will become an annual event that will be replicated in other municipalities," said Options and Advocacy Executive Director Winter Noe.

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Workforce development

West Aurora Unit District 129 will partner with the new Boys and Girls Club of Aurora to offer high school students focused workforce development this spring at Blackhawk Academy, located at the West Aurora Learning Center.

Students will be able to participate in college and career workshops and career exploration field trips. In the fall, the partnership will provide after-school programming for middle school students who will receive academic support, explore STEM topics and participate in enrichment activities. Each of the four middle schools within District 129 will have some type of after-school programming available to students.

"Their support will help us continue to strive to meet our goal of fostering an environment of equity and opportunity for all of our students, inside the classroom and through the extracurricular programs we provide," said Angela Smith, District 129 assistant superintendent for operations.


Youth council

Applications now are open for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding's inaugural NextGen Advisory Council.

Youth ages 18 to 25 years with an interest in serving American Muslim communities and in nonprofit administration and programming are eligible to apply.

ISPU, founded in 2002, seeks to develop objective, solution-oriented research about the challenges and opportunities facing American Muslims. The youth council will help shape ISPU's organizational strategy, programs and nationwide community engagement.

Applications will be accepted through Saturday, April 30. For more information, visit

Trustee appointment

Gowri Magati of Buffalo Grove recently was appointed a trustee in Vernon Township to fill a vacancy on the board.

A self-employed informational technology consultant, Magati ran unsuccessfully for Buffalo Grove Village Board in April 2021.

She has worked in project management with companies such as Walgreens and Johnson Controls. She has volunteered in fundraising for Ekal Vidyalay, a charity group that helps with children's education in rural India and organized several Indian cultural events.

Holocaust remembrance

Temple B'nai Israel in Aurora will hold an outdoor Holocaust memorial service Wednesday, April 27, in downtown Aurora.

The Yom Hashoah service will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Millennium Plaza gazebo on Stolp Avenue.

The event is open to the public. Street parking is available.

Ramadan expo

Suburban Muslims observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will mark its culmination with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr on May 2.

Throughout the month, believers abstain from food, drink and sensual pleasures from predawn until dusk, engage in spiritual reflection and take part in charitable giving and community service.

Eid al-Fitr symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. That day will begin with morning congregational prayers in mosques or large open areas such as parks, stadiums or arenas. Festivities include visiting the homes of relatives and friends and exchanging gifts.

Leading up to Eid, there will be many community expos with vendors selling clothing, jewelry, food and gifts, and traditional henna artists painting hands. One such event, Chand Raat Expo, will be held this weekend from noon Saturday until 1 a.m. Monday, May 2, at The Crowne Plaza, 1250 Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn.

Sikh appreciation

The city of Aurora recently honored its Sikh American community by presenting a proclamation recognizing Sikhs' rich history and contributions to American society and Chicago-area communities.

April is Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month in Illinois.

Mohinder Singh, head priest of the Illinois Sikh Community Center in Wheaton, gave the invocation during a ceremony last week where Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin issued the proclamation.

Dr. Paramjeet Kaur, a pediatrician with Aurora's Rush-Copley Medical Center, thanked city officials for the declaration and its impact on combating the increasing number of hate crimes against Sikhs.

Workforce equity

Oakton Community College in Des Plaines received more than $768,000 through the Illinois Community College Board's Workforce Equity Initiative to address education and unemployment gaps for Black and other underserved minority communities.

Students who live within Evanston, Maine and Niles townships can enroll in tuition-free, short-term certificate programs at Oakton that will prepare them for in-demand careers. The certificate programs are: emergency medical technician, basic nursing assistant or certified nursing assistant, real estate, CDL truck driving, pharmacy technician and manufacturing technology.

Prospective students can register to attend an upcoming information session at or email

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