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Mayor Bowser Breaks Ground on New Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center

Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Mayor Highlights Commitment to Support the Recreation and Therapeutic Needs of All Residents

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted investments in health, community living, and infrastructure at the groundbreaking of the new Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center. The $40.4 million project located in Ward 7 will become the premier therapeutic recreation center in the region and will serve residents along the full spectrum of physical and cognitive abilities.


“We know that individuals of all ages and abilities deserve to experience a sense of community, engagement, and inclusion – and that will be the focus of this space for generations to come,” said Mayor Bowser. “Washingtonians love our rec centers, our community centers, and our senior centers, and that’s because not only do we build beautiful facilities, we also build the types of programming that our residents want. At the new Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center, we’re going to have multiple agencies working together to give residents a fantastic experience.”


The new facility will consist of 37,000 square feet on more than 7.5 acres of land and will bring together several District agencies to provide comprehensive recreational and therapeutic programming. The new center will be an evolution of the District’s service system that will provide dignified cognitive opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities. The Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center will also offer a plethora of comprehensive programs and services including leisure life skills development, adaptive sports and aquatics activities, senior programming, arts and crafts and culture activities, special events, field trips, and summer camps.


“The new Joy Evans Therapeutic Rec Center will be a crown jewel in the Department of Parks and Recreation inventory, shinning a light on the inclusivity and accessibility we strive to provide DC residents,” said DC Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter. “We look forward to programming this space for all to enjoy, especially those with special needs.”


Scheduled for completion in summer 2023, the Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center, will include several features to enhance cognitive development and support physical disabilities. The center will feature therapy wellness and active rooms, including a sensory room, an 1,800 square foot therapeutic pool and a 135 square foot spa. It will also include senior and tech lounges, a caregiver lounge, fitness center, and multipurpose rooms. For younger ages, the center will have playgrounds for 2 to 5 and 5 to 12-year-olds, a splash pad, basketball court, and baseball field. The project design will incorporate a connection to nature throughout the site.


“The design at the Joy Evans Recreation Center includes the elements of biophilia – which is a human desire to connect with nature and other forms of life,” said Keith A. Anderson, Director of the Department of General Services. “This unique project reflects Mayor Bowser’s continued commitment to support dignified living. I am honored that DGS is managing this project that will be available to local certified business enterprises to work on and meet LEED Gold specifications.


Beginning in 1967, Joy Evans of Washington, DC was a resident of Forest Haven, an institution located 22 miles outside of the District. When she passed away at the age of 18, her experience brought needed attention to the disparity of city resources for residents with disabilities.


“The Joy Evans Class Action remedied the practices of segregation, maltreatment, and institutionalization of people with intellectual disabilities,” said Andrew Reese, Director of the Department of Disability Services. “Having a recreation center named in her honor reflects the significant strides our government has made and will continue to make so that DC residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities have every opportunity to use and receive services from any District business and facility. It reflects the commitment of Mayor Bowser to improve the lives of every District resident and fosters greater community inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”


The center provides ADA enhancements including automatic door openers, wheelchair ramps, call buttons, and braille signage for assistance.


“DACL is so proud to work alongside our sister agencies on projects like the Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center,” said Laura Newland, Director of the DC Department of Aging and Community Living. “This is just one more reason why the District is the best place to live, at any age or ability.”


The District worked with several disability consultants in designing the new facility including Amy Wagenfeld, co-author of Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, who has also worked with MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital.


The Mayor also highlighted investments in her Fiscal Year 2023 Fair Shot budget that will keep Washington, DC a city where all residents can thrive, including $353 million over the next six years to construct and modernize parks and recreation facilities, $294 million to preserve and maintain ADA-compliant recreation, library, and school facilities, $2.6 million to keep seniors connected to family, friends, healthcare and wellness through the distribution of personal tablets, as well as $11.5 million at the Department of Disability Services to retain direct support professionals who care for residents.