News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
February 24, 2017
Brookfield Zoo Campers Benefit from Continued Partnership Between Chicago Zoological Society
and National Inclusion Project

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Brookfield, Ill.—The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, has once again partnered with the National Inclusion Project for its program Let’s All Play. Now in its third year, the collaborative program enables Zoo Camp staff at the zoo to better serve children with disabilities.

Zoo Camp, which is accredited by the American Camp Association, serves 1,700 children each summer. Campers ages 4 to 14, divided into five groups by the latest completed school grade, explore animals and the natural world in fun, engaging, and age-appropriate settings through activities, encounters, games, art, and science inquiry. An estimated 7 percent of all Zoo Campers have special needs, including physical disabilities, autism, sensory processing disorders, and attention deficit disorders.

“We receive more inquiries about Zoo Camp every year as more families become aware of Brookfield Zoo’s capacity to work with children with special needs,” said Dave Becker, senior manager of learning experiences. “For three years in a row, we have been thrilled to offer the benefits of Let’s All Play to families who have children with special needs. This partnership continues to help ensure that Zoo Camp meets the needs of all children, regardless of ability, and allows them to learn about wildlife and nature, inspiring them to become conservation leaders.”

The Let’s All Play partnership supports the position of an inclusion specialist, a Zoo Camp counselor who works with children with disabilities and serves as an information resource for other counselors. It also helps CZS staff to stay up-to-date on the latest inclusion practices by enabling two employees to attend the National Inclusion Project Power of Play conference in spring 2017. Additionally, to ensure that children with disabilities, including those whose families may be facing economic challenges, are able to attend Zoo Camp, this partnership will allow the zoo to provide 10 one-week Zoo Camp scholarships for children with disabilities.

“CZS does a great job ensuring that children with and without disabilities can play, learn, and laugh together at Zoo Camp,” says Nick Leisey, executive director of the National Inclusion Project. “We are proud to partner with CZS for a third year so that it can continue to enhance its inclusive environment and make this environment available to as many children as possible.”

The Chicago Zoological Society is the area’s only provider of programs combining nature and animal interactions for individuals with disabilities outside the home or traditional environments while at the same time promoting inclusive learning. In 2013, Zoo Camp received a Program Excellence Award from the American Camp Association-Illinois. In 2016, A Zoo for All—our suite of diversity and inclusion initiatives, which include Zoo Camp—received the Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award Top Honors from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit
About the National Inclusion Project
The National Inclusion Project was cofounded in 2003 by entertainer Clay Aiken and serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them. With the Project driving the movement for social inclusion in after-school programs, summer camps, and community-based activities, children of all abilities learn, play, and laugh together. Over the last 12 years, the Project has provided training, curriculum, and support to YMCAs, JCCs, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4H, CampFire USA, Kids Museums, zoos, and other community organizations looking to become inclusive or enhance their inclusive programs. For more information on the National Inclusion Project and to help ensure no child sits on the sidelines, visit its website at


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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