Access to Recreation

Access. Inclusion. Community.

Frustrations – about participation, about being together, about access – are experienced daily by millions of American families. According to the 2000 census, 8 percent of non-institutionalized children between the ages of 5 and 20 have a disability. These numbers increase dramatically with age. Nineteen percent of adults between 21 and 64 have a disability. For those 65 and older, the number rises to 42 percent.Study after study has documented the health and social benefits of recreation in our society. Recreation strengthens communities, promotes social bonds, and improves physical and mental health. Not surprisingly, individuals with disabilities receive the very same benefits from participating in recreational activities. In fact, their need for these benefits is even greater.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has helped make recreation more accessible to people with disabilities, but not always in the most inclusive way. Launched in 2006, Access to Recreation is a four-state initiative that supports community foundations, parks and recreation providers, advocacy groups, and individuals as they work to provide greater access to a wide variety of inclusive recreation opportunities. More than 36 major recreation projects that incorporate the Principles of Universal Design will be completed by Spring 2010.

Access to Recreation is made possible through a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant to Midwest Community Foundations’ Ventures. Twenty-two community foundations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan have received matching grants to convene and lead local community partnerships. In addition to building inclusive recreation facilities, the community partnerships are building endowments to provide ongoing support and maintenance for the grant projects and to potentially fund future projects.

Statewide advisory groups have formed in each state to identify and support strategies that will lead to changes in policy and practice. Access to Recreation partners providing leadership for the Access to Recreation initiative include theCouncil of Michigan Foundations, Donors Forum in Illinois, Philanthropy Ohio and Indiana Philanthropy Alliance.

Download the Access to Recreation brochure [PDF] for background, history, guidelines, and case studies documenting the successes of the Access to Recreation Initiative.
Learn more at

Access to Recreation WhitepaperFrom Accessible Dreams to Eduring Practice, Read this white paper to learn more about Access to Recreation

Watch videos about 4 of our Access to Recreation projects on Youtube.