Here in the Stateline, there are many events especially for families with special needs and different abilities to enjoy. These events may be held before or after hours or take place at one of the area’s support centers. We’ve rounded up these events in our new monthly calendar for families with special needs in the Rockford area.

These events often require pre-registration so please make sure to read all the information below. All events are free unless otherwise stated.

If you know of any events that we missed, please email us and let us know!

November 2018 Events for Children with Special Needs

Calendar for Special Needs Events November 2018

Weekly Events

Sundays (November 4 and 18) from 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Cheer Gems Practice @ Gigi’s Playhouse
8801 N. Second Street, Machesney Park, IL

Cheer Gems promotes confidence and gives your child the opportunity to participate on a cheer squad and have shared experiences with their peers. Suitable for ages 9 years and older. RSVP by calling the Playhouse at 815-654-7529.

Tuesdays from 5:00 – 5:45 pm
Karate Kickers @ Rockford Plaza

This program will focus on development of balance, focus, coordination, discipline, fitness, and confidence. There will be no physical contact between peers; participants may kick and punch pads. This class will be held at the Rockford Plaza and led by Jamie Potter, trained instructor with over 20 years experience. Recommended for ages 10-21 years old. RSVP by calling the Playhouse at 815-654-7529.

Wednesdays (November 7 and 14) from 5:30 – 7:30 pm
GiGi’s Kitchen @ GiGi’s Playhouse
8801 N. Second Street, Machesney Park, IL

This program is geared toward building safety awareness in the kitchen and preparing healthy, gluten-free recipes which taste great. Suitable for ages 13-18 years old. Led by Michelle Thompson. RSVP by calling the Playhouse at 815-654-7529

Thursdays (not on November 22) from 10:30 – 11:30 am
Sensory Storytime @ Ida Public Library
320 N. State St, Belvidere, IL

This inclusive and interactive storytime is full of repetition, rhyme, and sensory play choices for children of all abilities from ages 0-6 years old.

Saturdays from 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Portal Theater Troop Practices @ GiGi’s Playhouse

GiGi’s Playhouse and Gateway performing Arts are proud to partner together for a production of Charlotte’s Web. This program is designed to give participants a chance to take the stage!  Program generously provided by The Rockford Area Arts Council. Suitable for ages 10 years and older. Rehearsals: Saturdays 1-3pm. Performances: November 30 and December 1 at Nordlof Theater. RSVP by calling the Playhouse at 815-654-7529.

One Time Events

November 10 from 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Mornings of Fun @ Discovery Center Museum
711 North Main Street, Rockford, IL

Discovery Center offers several Mornings of Fun each year for children with disabilities and their immediate families to experience our exhibits free of charge before the museum opens to the public. Mornings of Fun begin at 9:00 am. A healthy snack is served at 10:00 am and families are welcome to stay and play after the museum opens to the public at 10:00 am. Advance registration is required. Click here to register. To learn more, call 815-963-6769 or email

November 12 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Art Explosion Holiday Classes
8801 N. Second Street, Machesney Park, IL

This program provides hands on experience in multiple art media while spreading holiday cheer. Suitable for ages 13 years and older. Led by Mary Hampilos. RSVP by calling the Playhouse at 815-654-7529.

November 24 from 10:00 – 11:30 am
LMNOP/Walkers, Crawlers, Leaps & Bounds @ GiGi’s Playhouse
8801 N. Second Street, Machesney Park, IL

LMNOP guides parents and infants through learning basic sign language and incorporating music into daily activities to stimulate the child. Suitable for ages 6 months to 4 years old. Led by Amy Dalke. Crawlers, Walkers and Leaps & Bounds helps strengthen gross motor skills and will incorporate fine motor skills, sensory awareness and social interaction. Suitable for ages 6 months to 4 years old. Led by Kim Nesemier. RSVP by calling the Playhouse at 815-654-7529.

November 28 from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Special Needs Clinic @ Mercyhealth Pain Center
2400 N Rockton Ave, Rockford, IL, USA Building 2. 4th Fl.

Our clinic serves patients birth to 18* with a variety of special needs: cerebral palsy, spina bifida, chromosomal diagnoses, developmental/motor delays, bracing, gait disturbances, NICU graduates, and patients with chronic illnesses that affect motor function. Referrals from your doctor are required.
Pediatric specialists available for consult:
• Orthopedic surgery
• Rehabilitation medicine
• Neurology
• Orthotics
• Physical therapy
• Occupational therapy
• Social services
• Social support groups
• Representatives from UIC Specialized Care for Children
• Coordination with Rockford Spine Center

November 30 at 7:00 pm
Portal Troupe Performance of Charlotte’s Web @ Nordlof Center
118 N. Main Street, Rockford, IL

Portal Theatre Troupe is a program of Gateway Arts. We have partnered with GiGis Playhouse to create a performing arts program for individuals with special need. This is our second theater season. Portal’s Charlottes Web is an adaptation (written and composed by local children’s author Andrew Mahan) of E.B Whites story of two very different individuals who see the beauty and the worthiness in each other even when those around them are blinded by their own biases and prejudices. Our actors will be using the art of puppetry to tell the story of this special friendship. Charlottes Web is a musical. Duration of show: 60 min with a 15 min intermission. Get tickets here.

Rockford Park District Programs

The Rockford Park District is currently registering for their Therapeutic Recreation programs. You can view the list of programs available and register here. Options for kids and teens include buddy soccer, buddy skate, fall camp, and teen social club.

Rockford Park District also offers inclusion services. You can find out more about those services here.

Special needs calendar November 2018

Save the Date

December 9  from 9 am – 11 am
Santa Cares at CherryVale Mall

CherryVale Mall is teaming up with Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks to host Santa Cares, a sensory-friendly event for children and family members with all spectrums of special needs to enjoy the time-honored tradition of the Santa Photo Experience in a calming environment prior to public hours. We want this to be an opportunity for families to visit and capture keepsake photo memories with Santa, so sensory triggers such as music, bright lights, and mall traffic will be muted.

Families are given numbers when they arrive, and can enjoy sensory friendly activities at a nearby table until it’s their turn to individually visit with Santa. We hope Santa Cares will bring smiles and holiday magic for many families who would not have the opportunity to visit Santa otherwise. Photo packages are available for purchase during the event.

The Santa Cares event will be held Sunday, December 9 from 9 am-11 am. Please RSVP in advance by reserving one free ticket per group. Please enter the mall through JCPenney and use the elevator at Center Court to reach the Santa set.

Click HERE to RSVP.

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