Starting Out in St. Louis County
The idea to hire a staff person to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities in recreation programs was sparked during a 1991 workshop on the Americans with Disabilities Act given by John McGovern, a lawyer and parks and recreation professional from Northbrook, Illinois. McGovern discussed the impact the ADA would have on municipal parks and recreation programs and facilities and, most importantly, he explained the concept of inclusion.
|A girl in her wheelchair surrounded by family at the pool.|
In 1997, the seven departments chose to formalize their cooperative working agreement by creating MPIR. MPIR's board consists of the directors of parks and recreation for Ballwin, Crestwood, Des Peres, Ellisville, Fenton, Kirkwood, and Manchester. As the grant dollars were phased out, the seven parks and recreation departments budgeted money to maintain the position of coordinator of inclusive recreation. Currently, the seven parks and recreation departments contribute roughly 70% of the funding for the inclusion coordinator position, with the remaining 30% still provided by the grant from the Productive Living Board. The total population served, including the unincorporated areas of St. Louis County and non-residents from neighboring cities who do not have an inclusion coordinator, is roughly 140,000 to 150,000.