Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Will Wonders Never Cease?
For these very special children, I hope not.
Morgan's Wonderland, located in San Antonio, is truly a dream come true for so many. For its founder and developer, Gordon Hartman, it is a culmination of many years' hard work and inspiration. For his daughter, Morgan, it is a namesake amusement park filled with laughter and love. For the children it was built for, it is an inclusive place they can call their very own, a chance to experience what so many other children take for granted. And for these children's parents, it is a place where they never have to say, "I'm sorry, honey, you can't get on that ride".
The ultra-accessible family park is perhaps Texas' best-kept secret. I hope that changes. Here, special cognitive- and physical-needs children can safely explore their surroundings in the Sensory Village, steer their wheelchair directly onto the ground-level carousel, "shop" for goods in the Village Market, and swing, many for the first time in their lives, on specially modified swings. A Music Garden, a Wharf, a Pirate's Island, a Garden Sancutary, a place to picnic - Morgan's Wonderland has all this and more. See more here at Texas Co-op Power Magazine (where I first read about it) and here at Morgan's Wonderland web site. And be sure to check out the slideshow on the Texas Co-op site as well. The exuberant smiles on these childrens' (and parents') faces will warm your heart.
This is one of those incredible concepts that make you ponder, "Why hasn't anyone done this before?" So simple, yet so meaningful to so many. For a multitude of people, this is the first time they've had an opportunity to experience the simple pleasures most of us take for granted. And this park does not sacrifice fun in the name of safety, although both are paramount in importance. Radio-frequency identification wristbands keep track of guests, and should a visitor get lost, a mere swipe of the band helps locate them again. Adaptive swings allow even those children in wheelchairs to enjoy the wind rushing through their hair as they glide back and forth. Rides are made so that if a caregiver needs to accompany a guest on the ride, they may do so with ease.
People come from across the country and even from other nations to Morgan's Wonderland, and for good reason. This unique park, opened in 2010, offers not just special-needs children but their families something exceptional: the chance to be like everybody else.