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Community Recreation Center Collaboration

March 2020

Two Oak Park community leaders, Mary Jo Schuler and Dr. David A. Ansell, M.D., are volunteering to lead a campaign to raise $25 million in private funds in order to build a Community Recreation Center in Oak Park. The center will help address community wellness needs for multi-generations of Oak Park residents.

A life-time resident of Oak Park, Schuler is a philanthropic leader, businesswoman and parent committed to making a difference in the community. Dr. Ansell is senior vice president for Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. His research and advocacy focus on eliminating health inequities; and his most recent book is “The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills.”

The co-chairs said they believe the Community Recreation Center is important for Oak Park, particularly youth who lack for a welcoming, affordable place to participate in after-school programs, and for seniors who express a desire for a year-round, indoor walking track and recreation space.

“A Place to Belong,” the campaign for an Oak Park Community Recreation Center, is being spearheaded by the Parks Foundationof Oak Park. The foundation is a nonprofit, 501-c3, organization committed to supporting Park District of Oak Park facilities and programs that benefit the community.

The Community Recreation Center will provide space for indoor sports, including basketball, pickleball, volleyball; a walking track; a fitness center; and after-school programs and access for middle school and high school students. Phase Two would include an Aquatics Center with indoor swimming pools for lap swim, zero-depth play, and warm water therapy.

Community surveys have validated that Oak Park lacks affordable recreational and fitness opportunities for all families. Additionally, a feasibility study was conducted by the Park District in 2016 regarding the construction of a Community Recreation Center. As facts about the Community Recreation Center become more known, the Foundation s receiving positive responses to requests for funding commitments - from private and corporate donors, to foundation and state grants - all to aid in creating a center for all, built by the community, without raising tax dollars.

For more information please visit the Parks Foundation of Oak Park website.

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