CHICAGO — A school for the disabled in Dunning is hoping to expand its campus — and finally get a usable outdoor space for biking, walking and play for students.
New Horizon Center For The Developmentally Disabled, 6737 W. Forest Preserve Ave., currently lacks a good outdoor space, said Kathleen Alvarez, director of development at New Horizons.
"All we have is our parking area," she said. "We're kind of land-locked."
The center is in the midst of trying to acquire a 1.25-acre parcel of land behind the school for $1 from the city.
"It would provide a much safer and more appropriate recreational space for [students]," said managing director Patricia Palmer. "We currently use our driveway and parking lot for outdoor activities."
The center even uses the parking lot for its yearly Special Olympics competition, and students often ride their bikes inside the center, Alvarez said.
Though it is dirt and weeds right now, the lot would be transformed into an area with grass, sidewalks and a park shelter for students sensitive to the sun.
"This provides them an opportunity to get outside, get some fresh air, get some exercise and just experience the outdoors," Alvarez said.
Many students attend the school year-round, she said, so the area would not go to waste in the warm summer months.
New Horizon Center provides one-on-one learning and activities for children and adults with developmental disabilities and autism. It has about 55 students and 30 adults in its day programs, Palmer said.
"This is such an exciting opportunity for us," Palmer said. "We're passionate for the growth of New Horizon Center."
The project is expected to take three to five years to complete and cost $600,000. Palmer said more than $100,000 has been raised so far.
If everything goes according to plan, Palmer said, the first phase of transforming the acre would begin in the spring.
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