The Sensory Garden Playground is a cooperative effort of

Wheaton Park District

Kiwanis Club of Wheaton

Western DuPage Special Recreation Association

Forest Preserve District DuPage County


Sign up for Email Updates

Annual Appeal 2014 (PDF)


In the News:

Play for All (PDF) -Article featured in Illinois Parks & Recreation Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2013.

Sensory Garden Playground Receives Grant From the Rotary Foundation
-Wheaton Park District Press Release, June 14, 2013.

Volunteer Work Day to Prepare Sensory Garden Playground for First Phase
-Wheaton Park District Press Release, June 7, 2013.

Wheaton Park District receives grant for sensory garden playground, 11/23/2012

Special recreation group aims to build accessible playground -Chicago Tribune, 09/27/2012

Proposed Wheaton playground to appeal to kids with developmental challenges -Daily Herald, 06/05/2012

Inclusive Playground to Encourage Play for Special Needs and Able-Bodied Children
-Wheaton Patch, 05/11/2012

Wheaton Groups Plan A Unique Playground Project
-WDCB Public Radio 90.9FM

Play For All

The Sensory Garden Playground, Play for All, will create a barrier-free, universally designed outdoor play-space for the children of DuPage County and beyond.

20% of our children have some form of disability or learning challenge. Some may be physical limitations that are plain to see, while others are less apparent such as learning disabilities.

The new garden/playground is currently being developed at Danada South Park.

View the Playground on a Map >

Request for Proposal: Art Along the Way Sculpture Area

Artwork shall introduce children to fine art through safe, accessible, and interactive elements. A minimum of three and a maximum of five sculptures will be placed near the facility’s entrance path. For details, please view the Art Along the Way Details & Application (PDF).


Support Play For All on April 25, 2015:

4th Annual DuPage Human Race is a 5K fundraiser event with 1800+ people supporting over 50 local charities. Human Race flyer (PDF)

You can also make a direct donation here.

Creating a Play Area for All Children

Children use play as the instrument to learn about the world. Unfortunately, some play environments exclude children with disabilities because they have barriers to mobility or limited opportunities for play for children with autism. Some play areas fall short because they lack more sensory opportunities… more >

The playground proposes separate areas that allow children to progress at their own speed and focus on play activities developed to keep them engaged.

Current proposed plans call for:

  • A playground area
  • A sound and scent garden
  • Water play
  • A shelter and restroom building to accommodate extended visits.
  • An accessible baseball field, to allow children of all abilities to have the traditional ballfield experience

Download a printer-friendly PDF file outlining different ways you can help contribute to this special project!

Please help this concept become a reality!

Find out how you can help > 

For more information, please contact us.


Benefits of Play

The goal of this sensory garden playground is to create an environment where all children can feel comfortable and develop themselves by challenging their bodies and minds. This area will include amenities that will encourage different types of physical activity than standard playgrounds.

Research indicates that by creating a challenging and social environment for children with disabilities, it will provide a lasting effect for them into adulthood.

The lack of social inclusion deeply increases the chance of a child with a disability falling victim to bullying, according to UCLA clinical instructor of psychiatry Elizabeth Laugeson,”Lack of basic social skills may lead to rejection, isolation or bullying from their peers. And sadly, that isolation can carry into their adult life..” [1] A 2002 study confirmed the long-term impact, citing that “up to 90% of adults with disabilities who report loosing their jobs report doing so due to a lack of social skills.” [2] Other more immediate damaging outcomes for children and teens with disabilities who experience bullying include an increased chance of low self-esteem, depression, lower academic achievement, and attempted suicide. Sadly, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, the trend of victimizing children with disabilities is on the rise.

  • Play is an important vehicle for social relationships & modeling behavior, which impacts long-term success…initiation, negotiation, and boundaries…learning how to be in the tribe
  • Self-esteem is strengthened, as kids master tasks and the physical environment
  • A foundation for academic learning is developed (literacy through storytelling, science through physical exploration or environment, math/physics through manipulation of objects and environment)
  • Motor skills, sensory processing, muscle development, and cause-and-effect learning are promoted
  • Play stimulates the brain to produce chemicals that can reduce brain damage
  • Receptive and verbal communication skills are built

[1] Teaching Autistic Teens To Make Friends”; Science Daily, 2009

[2] Elksnin & Elksnin, “Adolescents with Disabilities: The Need for Occupational Social Skills Training”; Exceptionality; Volume 9, No. 1 & 2; Pages 91-105.




Project Partners


Kiwanis of Wheaton

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. We Build, the motto of the club, guided their participation in 40-50 service projects each year with most of the donated funds channeled back into the community. On its 50th anniversary in 2001, the Kiwanis of Wheaton supported the Wheaton Municipal Band’s CD project. With the assistance of many Wheaton businesses, agencies of government, members and other benefactors, Safety City was opened in 2003 at the Wheaton Park District’s Toohey Park.


Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

The mission of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is to acquire and hold lands containing forests, prairies, wetlands, and associated plant communities or lands capable of being restored to such natural conditions for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna, and scenic beauty for the education, pleasure, and recreation of its citizens.


Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA)

WDSRA has been providing fun, recreational opportunities to individuals of all ages with disabilities since 1976. WDSRA is a cooperative extension of nine park districts including Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton, and Winfield.


Wheaton Park District

The Wheaton Park District was incorporated in 1921. Today, the mission statement of the Wheaton Park District is “to enrich the quality of community life through a diversity of healthy leisure pursuits and heightened appreciation for our natural world.”


Shane’s Inspiration

Shane’s Inspiration awarded this project a grant for $100,000 of playground equipment and $50,000 of design assistance through an essay contest. They have a vision of “Fostering a bias-free world for children with disabilities” and a mission “to create inclusive playgrounds and programs that unite children of all abilities.”


Landscape Structures Inc. was founded in 1971 by Barb and Steve King, and is headquartered in Delano, Minn. Landscape Structures is one of the leading commercial playground equipment manufacturers in the world, and the company has designed, manufactured, installed and delighted children with more than 75,000 playgrounds worldwide.

Supporters & Contributors:









Winner’s Circle $150,000+

Wesley Luehring Foundation

Thoroughbred $100,000-$149,999

JCS Foundation | Landscape Structures

Steward $50,000-$99,999

Shane’s Inspiration

Front Runner $25,000-$49,999

Cadence Foundation
The DuPage Community Foundation
Kiwanis Club of Wheaton
Rotary Club of Central DuPage AM
Rotary Club of Wheaton

Starter $5,000-$24,999

Ball Horticultural Company, FORWARD DuPage, Lisle Partners for Parks, Miracle Field Foundation, Rotary Club of Lisle, Rotary Club International, Unilock





The Sensory Playground Initiative has received endorsements from the following organizations:

  • Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region
  • Turning Pointe Autism Foundation
  • Handicap This!“The Wheaton Park District is creating a place for Inclusion. Their Sensory Playground is a project that we fully believe in and support. Traveling around the country spreading our message of acceptance and awareness, we know how important Inclusion is. The commitment of The Wheaton Park District along with the County of Dupage is something that every community should take on. We look forward to partnering with you in the near future.”- Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach, stars of the hit stage show, “Handicap This!”

If you or your organization would like to share your endorsement on this initiative, please contact us.




Donate Now

We accept and appreciate all donations. Please help this concept become a reality! Funding and volunteers are needed.

Credit Card

Donations for the project may be made online through the Wheaton Park District Secure Registration Portal.

Cash or Check

Download our Pledge Form (PDF) to send with your cash or check donation made payable to:

  • Play For All Playground and Garden Foundation
    c/o Wheaton Park District
    855 W. Prairie Ave.
    Wheaton IL  60187
Development & Construction

Are you affiliated with a group that would help with the development of the park? Would you like to be a construction volunteer? Download and submit a Pledge Form (PDF) with your contact information or click here to contact us.


Become a Partner

We are currently looking for partners willing to provide donations or other assistance.

Please contact us for more information.


Contact Us


For more information, please contact us at:

Rob Sperl

Director of Planning

Wheaton Park District

1000 Manchester, Wheaton, Il 60187

Ph 630-510-4975

Fax 630-871-9213


To schedule an informational presentation, please contact:

Cindy Keck

Ph 630-399-0892