Students with disabilities to receive increased access to after school programs

  • Students with disabilities from across the Northwest suburbs will now have access to affordable, safe after school programming through the STAR Academy.Erica Stanko

    Students with disabilities from across the Northwest suburbs will now have access to affordable, safe after school programming through the STAR Academy.Erica Stanko

Brian Selders
Updated 11/14/2018 7:52 AM

Mt. Prospect, IL: For working families of students with disabilities throughout the northwest suburbs, one of the largest barriers to full time employment can be the limited access to appropriate after school programs for their loved one. To increase access for these families, two of the largest service providers for individuals with disabilities in the area, Clearbrook and Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA), will expand the existing STAR Academy After Care Program into Mt. Prospect. This will be the third location for the program, which provides after care throughout the school year and the summer months for children and teens with disabilities. The current program resides in Rolling Meadows and Hanover Park. The program in Mt. Prospect will open on Monday, Jan. 7.

Through the collaboration, state-certified staff lead a variety of educational, social and recreational activities after school, or day camp in the summer, for students with disabilities throughout the northwest suburbs. The program is overseen by a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). Clearbrook President Anthony Di Vittorio stated "STAR Academy helps to meet the growing needs of families impacted by intellectual and developmental disabilities. Clearbrook is proud to be working alongside NWSRA again to provide an innovative solution to an everyday challenge."

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STAR stands for Students in Therapeutic Afterschool Recreation. The third location will provide services to 20 students with disabilities daily, five days a week, throughout the school year. "We are truly excited to partner with Clearbrook to address growing need for affordable, accessible after school programming for students throughout the northwest suburbs", NWSRA Executive Director Tracey Crawford stated. To address the increased need for services needed for working families of students with disabilities, Clearbrook and NWSRA partnered collaboratively to form the STAR Academy.

In order to serve the unique needs of these students, STAR Academy curriculum focuses on three core elements; Recreation & Leisure, Health & Wellness and Social Skills. The Recreation & Leisure component focuses on developing gross and fine motor skills, experiencing cultural arts, dance, drama and music, as well as participating in passive and active recreation. The Health & Wellness component focuses on developing skills to enhance a healthy lifestyle, improving one's physical health, self-respect and self-image. Finally, the Social Skills component focuses on expanding communication skills, enhancing interaction with peers and developing interpersonal skills.

Many public school districts in Illinois are unable to provide after school services specifically for their students who participate in Special Education classes, leaving many families in desperate need of services with limited financial options. Through the collaboration between Clearbrook, NWSRA and the local School Districts, STAR Academy provides an innovative approach to after school programming.

The program will provide a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and Direct Service Provider (DSP) staff who will oversee and implement a variety of educational, social and recreational activities daily. STAR Academy will run throughout the school year following the NSSEO school calendar, after school until 6:00 p.m., 5 days a week and will serve students of all ages. Transportation may be provided for students attending Miner School, Kirk School, Hersey High School, Palatine High School, Hoffman Estates High School, NSSEO, District 15, District 59 and District 54 schools on a case by case basis. Students that do not attend these schools are welcome to attend the STAR Academy but will need to arrange transportation to the program.


STAR Academy in Rolling Meadows will be available to youth ages 7-14 years old. The The Mt. Prospect location will be available for teens and young adults ages 15-21. Hanover Park location will be open to both youth, teens and young adults ages 7-21 years old. For more information on STAR Academy, visit or contact Liz Thomas at 847-392-2848, ext. 227 or e-mail

About Clearbrook:

Based in Northern Illinois, Clearbrook was founded in 1955 and has since evolved into a recognized leader in the field of intellectual/developmental disabilities. Today, Clearbrook creates innovative opportunities for over 8,000 children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy - as well as their families. Clearbrook provides personalized children's, adult day, employment, residential and clinical services at more than 50 locations throughout the Chicago area. In addition, Clearbrook is the largest provider of home-based services in the state of Illinois. Clearbrook employs more than 900 people and proudly reports that 92 percent of every dollar raised goes directly into programs and services. For more information, please visit

About NWSRA:

NWSRA has enriched the lives of children and adults with disabilities as a partnership of 17 Northwest suburban Park Districts by providing outstanding recreational opportunities for over 40 years. NWSRA holds the distinction of Distinguished Accredited Agency from the Illinois Park and Recreation Association, and won the National Recreation and Park Association Excellence in Inclusion Award for national leadership in diversity and inclusion initiatives. If you are interested to learn more about NWSRA's programs and success stories, please visit our website:, or contact Brian Selders at 847-392-2848.

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