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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Special Programs

Animal Pals & Animal Assisted Visits

Resident and horse

The benefits of an animal-human bond have been documented for centuries. The relationship between a therapy animal and a patient, however, extends far deeper than simple companionship; there are physical, emotional, and mental benefits to this type of treatment. Lowered blood pressure and reduced stress from the gentle nature of the non-judgmental relationship. Other benefits include decreased anxiety, loneliness and depression through the nurturing bond formed with an animal. Animal therapy is a part of the daily activity for the residents.

Animal Shelter Pals from DuPage County Animal Care and Control vis the unites each Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. 

Regular Animal Assisted Visits are part of the daily activity for the residents and are provided by registered volunteers.

A large bird aviary is located by the residents dining room on 1 South and several fish aquariums are located throughout the facility. 

Well behaved and leashed pets are welcome at any time.   

Arts & Crafts Program

Resident painting

A sense of purpose is significant for seniors, especially if they spent much of their younger years defined by a career or by raising children and running a household. Once those responsibilities are lifted, seniors may sometimes develop an uncertainty about their purpose later in life. This can affect health and overall well-being. Participating in artistic activities, however, bolsters problem-solving skills and satisfaction that seniors can take into everyday life. Also, when seniors can share their handmade gifts with friends and family, they develop a sense of pride in what they have created. The craft programs are adapted for individuals with disabilities.

Residents with a past interest, or new curiosity, are encouraged to come and work on projects in our specialized areas of ceramics, fiber arts or woodshop. A unique addition to this program is that the resident can work for the arts & crafts department and receive pay for their artwork that is sold in the gift shop or during seasonal sales. The center has art shows to display their finished projects. Their art work is also used in creative ways throughout the building as decor. The painting class has a note card program in which they are selected to display their artwork on note cards that are sold in the Spring and at Christmas time as a fundraiser with profits also seen by the resident artists. The Arts & Crafts Department is in the Center building on the 2nd floor.

The Woodshop is open on Monday’s from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. The Ceramics classes are held Monday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Painting Classes are on Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Anyone interested in weaving, looms are available in the Fiber Arts Room on Tuesday mornings.

Many of the items made by our residents are for sale and can be purchased by visiting our gift shop or by attending the DuPage County Fall Festival. For information on these events, contact the Recreation Department at 630-784-4473. Proceeds from these sales go to the Resident Recreation Fund.

Many of these programs are run by volunteers. Anyone wanting to become a volunteer should contact our volunteer office at 630-784-4260.

Donka Computer Training Program

Resident and computerResident and computer

Donka, Inc. is a separate non-profit organization providing no-cost computer training to persons with physical and visual disabilities. The computers are specially designed to accommodate the physical ability and skill level of the resident/student. Once the training program is completed, the resident may independently utilize the computer lab.

Donka has three primary goals:
1. Provide a credible computer training program to people with disabilities.
2. Provide adequate training and experience to enable students to pursue further education or to seek employment.
3. Provide a way for disabled people to utilize their intellectual abilities, increase their self-esteem, and become more self-sufficient, independent members of the community.

The Donka computer lab is located on the ground floor of our East building.  DPCC residents (who are graduates of the Donka program) use the lab regularly in the afternoons, evenings and weekends to write letters, make cards, surf the net, and e-mail friends and family.  Hours are posted on a weekly basis.  No one is allowed in the Donka computer lab after 9:00 p.m.

For more information on Donka, Inc visit their web site

Horticulture Therapy Program

Residents gardening

In an ongoing effort to create opportunities for residents in expressing independent leisure lifestyles to enhance and enrich the quality of their lives, this program was set up to improve upon a person’s self-worth as well as cultivate their interest in gardening, nature and the outdoors. Gardening has played a large part in the history of this facility since its beginning in the late 1800’s.  Originally gardens were for food production to provide the resident’s meals. In the early 80’s, the Recreation Therapy Department reorganized the Horticulture Therapy Program and it has evolved into the program it is today because of the importance that is placed on a comprehensive leisure program available to long term residents. The heart of the garden is the sunny raised bed area. At 3 feet tall, the six long rows of divided garden plots are accessible to residents, many of whom are in wheelchairs, that enables physically impaired residents the ability to independently participate. This program provides the residents with a chance to shift their focus away from the things that have them worried to something more positive.  It can be empowering, because planting flowers and plants is something that they have control over; a rare commodity in the life of a senior who is faced with the unknown day after day. For seniors, gardening can also be a creative outlet; it's a form of design that can inspire them to use their imaginations and shape what they'd like their garden to look like. Plus, with gardening, there can be a major feeling of accomplishment, when after all the hard work they put into their garden and the flowers bloom and vegetables grow.  It represents a good source of physical activity and it promotes physical and mental health through relaxation and satisfaction.  Many of these residents have good cognitive abilities but are limited physically, which is a huge challenge for anyone working in a garden.  Because of the adaptive equipment we provide including raised beds and adaptive gardening tools, they can increase their independence in the garden more than they ever dreamed possible.  The staff and numerous volunteers which include master gardeners are an integral part of making the program run smoothly.

The garden Club had over 60 members this year. Weekly garden meetings provide instruction and the most up to date techniques for a successful garden from The DuPage Master Gardeners.  Some of the plants are started from seedlings in the portable greenhouse. The residents enjoy watching their plants grow from seedlings to healthy fruitful plants.  Monthly community trips to Morton Arboretum, Cantigny and Peck Farms is another exciting perk to the program.  The garden club resident participants enter their vegetables and flowers in the DuPage Care Center’s County Fair and win prizes for their efforts each year.  What a feeling of self-worth they receive when they are awarded this much-deserved prize.  The staff in the facility always look forward to the yearly vegetables sales that are sold to raise money for an end of the year dinner that all resident club members enjoy.  Each year they donate their overflow vegetables to the Peoples Resource Center for those in need. 


The DuPage Care Center Foundation has funded the construction of an "garden pavilion." It is an 805-square foot open-air structure with roof, ceiling fans, lights, and sound system that will accommodate 30 residents in wheel chairs. With places to sit and relax, opportunities to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the sensory garden, or visit with friends, the garden offers something for everyone.

We are always looking for volunteers to help with programs. Residents and their families are invited to learn more about gardening opportunities by calling 630-784-4301. The garden entrance is located across from the Recreation Room on 1 Center.