Beginning in January 2011, adults with special needs in Brookfield and throughout the 11 communities served by the South East Association for Special Parks and Recreation (SEASPAR) will be able to take advantage of a new program to be headquartered here.

SEASPAR will launch two five-month long pilot programs targeting two different groups of special needs adults. Offshoots of the organization’s EAGLES (Enhancing Adult Growth through Lifestyle, Education and Service) program, SEASPAR is looking to provide life-skills education for special needs adults over the age of 35 (EAGLES II) and offer more intensive, personalized life skills assistance for adults between the ages of 18 and 35 (EAGLES III).

Both programs will be held in the lower-level recreation hall of the Brookfield village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave. The EAGLES II program will meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Laura Christensen, the EAGLES coordinator. EAGLES III will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 3.

Not all of their time will be spent inside, said Christensen. The 35-and-older group will combine “self-advocacy skills, becoming more independent, working on vocational skills, job training … making healthy choices and physical fitness,” according to Christensen.

Like the EAGLES group that has been meeting Monday through Friday since September 2008 in at the Darien Sportsplex, the Brookfield EAGLES will also spend time doing volunteer and other work in the community.

The main difference between EAGLES and the new Brookfield group is the age of the participants. In Darien, everyone is between the ages of 18 and 35. One Brookfield resident participates in EAGLES in Darien.

“We’ve been getting calls from families who have older adults,” Christensen said. “We didn’t want to open the age range here [in Darien] and we’ve also been getting lots of calls from families of those who need one-on-one training.”

In Darien, SEASPAR serves 27 total individuals and 17 per day, Christensen said. She expected that the Brookfield programs would start out smaller – eight to 12 participants in the EAGLES II program and four to six in EAGLES III. But she expects that the programs will become popular quickly.

In Darien, the program started with four to five individuals and hit full capacity within weeks, Christensen said. In Darien, the three-day program costs families $4,668 per year and SEASPAR asks for a one-year commitment.

Christensen said SEASPAR hasn’t finalized the fee structure for the Brookfield programs. However, for the first year at least families won’t have to sign up for the full 12 months.

The programs will take the summer off after the January-May session and pick up again from September through December. Eventually, the Brookfield EAGLES may become a 12-month program.

Brookfield Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said that the recreation hall, particularly the kitchen, may need some upgrades to accommodate the EAGLES programs. Ginex said he has also contacted the Cook County Department of Public Health to see if the village will need any permits or special equipment.

“We need to make sure the kitchen area is squared away,” said Ginex. The EAGLES program will be using the kitchen daily to make lunch, according to Christensen as part of the life-skills training.

In addition, Ginex said that the village is working with Countryside-based All Information Systems, which does IT consulting with the village, to obtain up to four laptop computers for program participants to use and provide wireless Internet access in the recreation hall.

In all, Ginex said he expects that the improvements may end up costing a couple of thousand dollars. Anyone wishing to make donations to the program can contact village hall, he said.

Meanwhile, the programs should not interrupt regular programming that’s already going on in the recreation hall, said Mary Pezdek, program coordinator for the Brookfield Recreation Department.

The hall is used by senior citizens on Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but “we should still be able to accommodate them,” Pezdek said.

Since the programs won’t be held during the summer months in 2011, they also won’t conflict with the village’s summer day camp for kids. If the program ever goes to 12 months, it could pose something of an issue for the day camp, Pezdek said.

“We’ll see how it grows,” Pezdek said. “But it’s great for them to have use of the hall during the school year, and it’s a good thing for people on this side of the SEASPAR area.”

Brookfield has been a member of SEASPAR since 2007. The village contributes approximately $65,000 per year to the association to allow village residents with special needs to take advantage of recreation and other programs.