Belvidere Park District joined NASR in January of 2007. The program at the Belvidere Park District began with one full time staff, a Special Recreation Supervisor. There was one program, Camp Horizon Day Camp, that had been in existence since, at least, 1985. In the few years before joining NASR, staff at the Belvidere Park District held at least 2 special events a year for families and participants with special needs. In the fall of 2007, the first ongoing special recreation programs were added to the Belvidere Park District program guide, alongside Inclusion Services. In the summer 2008, Camp Horizon was expanded. Throughout 2008, Special Olympics Sports (Basketball, Bowling, and Track & Field), the after school program Club Horizon, and several specialty programs were added to the program offerings.
During 2009, Camp Horizon continued expansion, our first ever Overnight Trip and Camping Trip was offered, the 1st Annual Send a Kid “with Special Needs” to Camp Moonlight Bowling Fundraiser was held, and the installation of Bloom Playground rounded out the very busy year. The beautiful pavilion at Bloom Playground, the New Horizons Adult Day Program, Buddy Baseball, Leisure Education (in conjunction with Belvidere School District #100), and the 1st Annual NASR Bowling Tournament were all welcome additions to the NASR-Belvidere program in 2010. When 2011 rolled around, the final phase of the NASR-Belvidere renovations were put into motion with the addition of the Water Feature & Sensory Garden by the Pavilion and Bloom Playground and a new facility (residential home on East Lincoln Ave) was secured for New Horizons. In addition, Early Childhood programming, Special Olympics (Bocce & Golf), and the very first week-long Vacation Trip to Minneapolis, MN were offered for participants to experience.
NASR-Belvidere welcomed the addition of 2 new full-time positions in 2012, which were that of Special Recreation Supervisors. All of our programs and services were experiencing growth throughout 2012. Just a few examples of this growth; New Horizons has outgrown their facility (in the first year of their 2 year lease) with 12—15 participants attending on any given day, the 2nd Annual Vacation Trip maxed out with 5 participants from Belvidere and 9 from the Freeport Park District, Track participation grew to 23 athletes, and the Basketball program offered a team & individual skills option for athletes to participate. 2013 continued to the see the same growth. Special Olympics Track & Field accommodated 32 athletes, Camp Horizon is 12 weeks long, and preparationsbegan for a new NASR-Belvidere facility.
The most exciting addition to NASR Belvidere programs and services in 2014 was moving into our own facility. The building was purchased in November 2013. The youth programs moved into the north half of the building in July 2014. Participants immediately flourished in the larger space! The south half of the building began renovations at the same time the youth programs moved into the facility. Renovations were complete in October 2014. By November, New Horizons and all staff were moved into the newly renovated south side of the building. On January 11, 2015, we hosted a Grand Opening which welcomed over 30 families, including many new faces. As we continue to get acclimated to our new facility, we cannot wait to see the growth that this will provide to our programs and participants.