Access in Action

Parker’s Foundation Grant Program for Summer Camps and Preschool
In our second year, 2023, Parker’s Foundation Grant Program was able to provide free summer camp and preschool for 42 children from under-resourced families. We are also able to provide scholarship assistance for at-risk elementary school students enrolled in our Before and After School Care  Club (BACC Pack). We appreciate the generous support from West Aurora SD129, Child Welfare Society of Aurora, Dunham Foundation, Rotary Club of Aurora United, Kiwanis Club of Aurora and private donors.

Brian Brooks Memorial Tennis Foundation
Brian’s wife Mary Kay and the Brooks family, through collaboration with the Fox Valley Park District and its Fox Valley Park Foundation, have established the Brian Brooks Memorial Tennis Foundation, which is designed to make annual contributions in Brian’s name toward programming fees for children whose families lack resources to support their tennis dreams.

Brian’s sudden passing in November 2022 left a profound void here in the Fox Valley, northern Illinois and throughout state and Midwest tennis communities. To honor Brian’s legacy and continue the impact he made through his passion and positivity, Brian’s family wishes to help provide opportunities for underserved youth in our community to learn tennis and life skills that Brian provided for so many.

To donate online to the Brian Brooks Memorial Tennis Foundation, please click here.

A little more about Brian Brooks …
For more than 30 years, Brian taught Physical Education and coached boys and girls tennis at West Aurora High School, along with coaching and mentoring hundreds of players of all ages and abilities through Fox Valley Park District programming at the Vaughan Tennis Center. Upon retiring from his career in education, Brian continued to coach at Vaughan Tennis Center, Northern Illinois University, and Aurora Country Club.

During his decorated career, Brian twice earned Illinois High School Tennis Coach of the Year and is an inducted member of both the West Aurora High School Athletics and Illinois High School Tennis Association halls of fame. Brian’s infectious, joyful personality shined through his teaching and coaching. Beyond tennis, yet through tennis, his students learned the values of teamwork, fair play, sportsmanship, and hard work.

Teach Kids to Swim
Many children in our community don’t have access to learning how to swim. Not only is swimming a healthy and fun recreation that can provide a lifetime of fulfillment, it’s a vital safety skill. Research shows that if a child doesn’t learn to swim by 3rd grade, chances are they never will. For this reason, we developed a 1-week program for Wayside Cross Urban Youth Ministry and other scholarship opportunities for 2nd graders in the District. Thanks to partnerships with Wayside Cross and Rotary Club of Aurora, more than 100 underserved children received five one-hour lessons at no cost. The lessons were taught by the District’s certified aquatics instructors at Splash Country Water Park. One particularly touching story involved 12-year-old Enrique Lessner. Read our full story here.

Free Sports Saturdays
Free Sports Saturdays provide a supervised environment for children to interact and participate in activities that include sports, crafts, and general fitness. We partnered with six schools throughout Aurora and North Aurora to offer this no-cost, 10-week program for resident families with children in grades 1 through 5. The format is similar to an open gym concept, though FVPD instructors are on hand to teach and assist, as children strengthen their athletic skills. Thanks to our generous donors, Sports Saturdays provide an opportunity to get out of the house and do what they love most – play!

Early Childhood Education Scholarships
Help us close the early childhood education gap and provide lifetime benefits for each child who is assisted. 90% of a child’s brain development happens before age 5. There is an inequality in early childhood education. By age 3, children from low-income families are exposed to 30 million fewer words than their peers. Investment in early learning helps to close the word gap and produces long-term benefits in cognitive skills, social-emotional skills, and future earnings. Our Learning Ladder Preschool Preparation Program provides sequential progress in preparing children for preschool and kindergarten. Our classes offer learning experiences tailored to meet the needs and developmental level of each child. Each level focuses on a different stage in educational growth, building from discovery to learning to knowledge with lots of interaction and hands-on activity. Our Creative Play Preschool curriculum is aligned with the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards and is built on activities and concepts of STEAM. Elements of the nature curriculum Growing Up Wild are woven into all our classrooms. The Pyramid Model for Promoting Social-Emotional Competence is utilized at all age levels, helping to address and prevent challenging behaviors at an early age.

The Copley Boxing Club Program
For a $5 fee for a 12-week session, we provide access to an after-school boxing club program that promotes fitness and provides a safe environment and positive experience for youth ages 8 and up. Fox Valley Park District’s Copley Boxing and Training Center provides an updated Fox Fitness facility where students can train with USA Boxing Certified coaches and have access to the gym year-round. Young boxers learn effective training and conditioning techniques involving jump rope, exercise machines, heavy bags, and speed bags. The trainers have a positive influence on the young boxers teaching them discipline, respect, health, and wellness and helping point them in the direction of success.

Heroes in Health for Veterans
Heroes in Health is a free program available to veterans who have been honorably discharged from the US military and who live within the Fox Valley Park District boundaries. Our goal is to provide veterans with a way of transitioning back into the community and engaging with other former military service members through fitness. Each year, 14 veterans who qualify will be given a free 1-year membership for Vaughan Athletic Center Fitness with locker room access. The veteran may include a workout partner to accompany them, who also receives a free 1-year membership. Participant qualifications are a DD214 with honorable/general/medical discharge and a disability rating of 10% or higher and permanent injury or chronic illness (service-connected or post-service with a doctor note). Read Chicago Tribune/Aurora Beacon News story.

Blast Camp Scholarships
Help us provide scholarships so that all kids, regardless of family income, will have access to attend a Spring, Summer, or Winter Blast Camp and just enjoy being a kid. We go all-out to create a fun and exciting camp where kids engage in a wide range of sports, recreational games, arts, crafts, and cool activities. With special event days and field trips – it’s a new adventure at every turn. Two generous donors provided funds for 31 underserved kids to attend Eola Spring Blast Camp in April, 2021. Throughout the week, the kids learned lessons on re-using and re-purposing materials and Paying it Forward. It all came together on the last day when they made chew toys from discarded tennis balls wrapped in discarded cloth/tee shirts for the dogs at Aurora Animal Care & Control. Read our full story here.

Performing Arts Scholarships
All kids need outlets to express themselves and dream big! Help us be a springboard for fun and creativity by supporting scholarships for underprivileged children and youth for our performing arts programs. We have Music, Dance, Drama, Gymnastics, Cheer, and much more to engage their creative juices, build their self-confidence, and provide a stage to make their debut! Donations will help offset the cost of program fees and costumes for our future stars.

Free Summer Camps for Children in Shelters
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t offer this program – because homelessness and domestic violence wouldn’t exist. But for the third straight year, we opened our popular, 10-week Summer Blast Camp at Prisco Community Center to children who live at Hesed House and Mutual Ground. A 5-week session for residents typically costs $552, but all fees were waived for kids in shelters, thanks to a generous donor. The goal of the camp is to produce a “normal” day for children who endure a difficult home life – or have no home at all. Their personal situation is protected, for only camp counselors are aware of their varying backgrounds. At camp, the kids engage in sports, games, arts and crafts, along with weekly special event days and field trips.