The mission of the Special Recreation Department is to educate our citizens to become more responsible, productive, healthy, and contributing members of society by preparing them through recreation with a dynamic and caring environment, that excites and invites all to participate.

Furthermore, the department strives to increase the visibility of programs offered, facilitate knowledge of services available, and support individuals, of all ages, with disabilities in Belvidere and the surrounding communities. Staff attempts to offer the highest quality of assistance available while giving a participant the maximum amount of information in regard to leisure and recreation opportunities available.

Are you a new participant interested in our programs and services? Are you an existing participant who would also like more information? Special Recreation Staff welcome new and/or existing participants, their families, and friends to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.


Belvidere Park District (BPD) joined Northlands Association for Special Recreation (NASR) in January of 2007. The Special Recreation (SR) program at the Belvidere Park District began with one full-time staff, a Special Recreation Supervisor. Before joining NASR, there was one SR program, Camp Horizon Day Camp (specifically serving individuals with disabilities), 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 disabilities. In the fall of 2007, the first ongoing SR programs were added to the Belvidere Park District program guide, alongside Inclusion Services. In the summer of 2008, Camp Horizon expanded its offerings. 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, the 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 programming in 2010. When 2011 rolled around, the final phase of the BPD SR renovations was put into motion with the addition of the Water Feature & Sensory Garden by the Bloom Playground/Pavilion a new location (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 similar recreation activities like their typical peers.

SR welcomed the addition of 2 new full-time positions in 2012 – Special Recreation Supervisors.  This bumped the current Supervisor into a Manager position.  All programs and services were experiencing growth throughout 2012. Just a few examples of this growth; New Horizons has outgrown the program location (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 see the same growth. Special Olympics Track & Field accommodated 32 athletes, Camp Horizon is 12 weeks long, and preparations began for a new Special Recreation Facility.

The most exciting addition to SR programs and services in 2014 was moving into a new facility. The building was purchased in November 2013. The youth programs (mainly Camp Horizon) 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 completed 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, BPD hosted a Grand Opening which welcomed over 30 families, including many new faces.

Over the next 10 years, the SR programs and services experienced tremendous growth, as well as setbacks.  The main setback was the pandemic in 2020.  When programming opened back up in 2021, the process was slow to regain the full momentum experienced before the pandemic.  By 2024, all programs were full speed ahead!  Many experienced growths never seen before.  For example – New Horizons and Club Horizons welcomed many new faces to their programs.  New Horizons maxed out its participation of 30 unique individuals, Club Horizon (after-school program) had 18 different individuals participate, Special Olympics Sports offerings now include 10 sports (Swimming, Bocce, Track & Field, Golf Skills, Softball-Team & Skills, Bowling, Flag Football, Volleyball, Basketball, and Snowshoe), the annual Vacation Trip returned, and much more!

Contact a Special Recreation Staff member for more information about their programs and services to become involved.  Click here to be connected to our staff directory.  https://www.belviderepark.org/special-recreation/about-us/contact-nasr/

Northlands Association for SPECIAL RECREATION (NASR)

NASR LogoNorthlands Association for Special Recreation (NASR) is a cooperative partnership between the Belvidere, Freeport, and Rockford Park Districts (referred to as a member district).  NASR was originally formed in 1989 between Rockford and Freeport Park Districts, with Belvidere Park District joining in 2007.  NASR programs are open to any individual with disability-related special needs such as physical, mental, and developmental disabilities and persons with mental illness, behavior disorders, and visual or hearing impairments.

Member district residents are invited to participate in Specialty/Therapeutic (TR) programs offered through any member district at the resident rate.  For participation in inclusion services at a member district other than your own, you must pay the non-resident rate for that specific program.  Scholarships are limited to each member district and its residents.