Naperville Park District's Janinne Baiardo honored with Emily Town Memorial Inclusion Award

Submitted by Naperville Park District
Updated 11/8/2018 8:57 PM
  • Janinne Baiardo, shown with Bozeman, the puppy she currently is training as a leader dog, is selected as the Emily Town Memorial Inclusion Award winner.

    Janinne Baiardo, shown with Bozeman, the puppy she currently is training as a leader dog, is selected as the Emily Town Memorial Inclusion Award winner. Courtesy of Naperville Park District

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

The special recreation association 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 Brad Wilson, director of recreation. "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 the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association who passed away in 1995 and had kept a journal regarding the child she assisted in an inclusion setting.

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