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Editor’s letter
100 per cent accessible

Fortunate adults build the lives they dream of as children, so giving kids the opportunity to play, invent, imagine and socialise goes to the heart of what makes a healthy society. A new venture in the US extends this opportunity to children with disabilities and it’s a game changer

By Liz Terry | Published in Attractions Management 2017 issue 3

A few years back we were privileged to interview entrepreneur Gordon Hartman about the inclusive theme park he’d built for his daughter, Morgan, who has cognitive delay. The park was designed so that children of all abilities could play side by side and families supporting a child with a disability could play together (Attractions Management Q4 2012, page 30).

Morgan’s Wonderland, in San Antonia, Texas, is now seven years old and going from strength to strength and in this issue, we report on a second gate which has just been opened by Hartman in the form of a waterpark called Morgan’s Inspiration Island (page 76).

As with the original theme park, he turned to users to develop both the concepts and the features for the new attraction, saying: “We spoke to people in the community – people with special needs, people without, care givers, teachers, doctors, therapists – and pooled our ideas.”

The team then collaborated with industry experts to deliver and install a range of specially adapted water experiences. The waterpark is completely wheelchair accessible.

The development team worked with the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and others to create a wheelchair that runs on compressed air, without batteries, so that users can retain their independence while enjoying the waterpark. Waterproof wheelchairs are also available.

Watersprays were adapted to enable guests to control the level of force involved, for times where an intense spray would cause distress. The aim – in short – is for the waterpark to be 100 per cent accessible. “We live in a world of exclusion rather than inclusion,” says Hartman, “but we hope talking more about inclusion will help change that conversation.”

The wonderful story of Morgan’s Wonderland and Inspiration Island needs to be shared, so the expertise gained by the team who worked on both projects can be deployed widely across the industry as we strive to become more inclusive.

The fact that the US – one of the most prosperous countries in the world – has only this small number of fully adapted facilities is an indication of the scale of the challenge which lies ahead.

There are no official statistics for the number of children in the world with a disability, but Unicef estimates it to be at least 93 million and probably a great deal more, saying: “Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalised and excluded groups in society, facing daily discrimination in the form of negative attitudes, lack of adequate policies and legislation [In many cases] they are effectively barred from realising their rights.”

We urge all operators to take this matter ever more seriously – to examine current policy, practice, investment plans, staff training and marketing – to see what more can be done to make our industry open, accessible and inclusive.

We welcome feedback about best practice in this area for our letters pages, so if you have something to share with the wider industry, please write to us and let us know and we’ll publish your story. Write to theteam@attractionsmanagement.com

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Jobs . News . Products . Magazine
Editor’s letter
100 per cent accessible

Fortunate adults build the lives they dream of as children, so giving kids the opportunity to play, invent, imagine and socialise goes to the heart of what makes a healthy society. A new venture in the US extends this opportunity to children with disabilities and it’s a game changer

By Liz Terry | Published in Attractions Management 2017 issue 3

A few years back we were privileged to interview entrepreneur Gordon Hartman about the inclusive theme park he’d built for his daughter, Morgan, who has cognitive delay. The park was designed so that children of all abilities could play side by side and families supporting a child with a disability could play together (Attractions Management Q4 2012, page 30).

Morgan’s Wonderland, in San Antonia, Texas, is now seven years old and going from strength to strength and in this issue, we report on a second gate which has just been opened by Hartman in the form of a waterpark called Morgan’s Inspiration Island (page 76).

As with the original theme park, he turned to users to develop both the concepts and the features for the new attraction, saying: “We spoke to people in the community – people with special needs, people without, care givers, teachers, doctors, therapists – and pooled our ideas.”

The team then collaborated with industry experts to deliver and install a range of specially adapted water experiences. The waterpark is completely wheelchair accessible.

The development team worked with the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and others to create a wheelchair that runs on compressed air, without batteries, so that users can retain their independence while enjoying the waterpark. Waterproof wheelchairs are also available.

Watersprays were adapted to enable guests to control the level of force involved, for times where an intense spray would cause distress. The aim – in short – is for the waterpark to be 100 per cent accessible. “We live in a world of exclusion rather than inclusion,” says Hartman, “but we hope talking more about inclusion will help change that conversation.”

The wonderful story of Morgan’s Wonderland and Inspiration Island needs to be shared, so the expertise gained by the team who worked on both projects can be deployed widely across the industry as we strive to become more inclusive.

The fact that the US – one of the most prosperous countries in the world – has only this small number of fully adapted facilities is an indication of the scale of the challenge which lies ahead.

There are no official statistics for the number of children in the world with a disability, but Unicef estimates it to be at least 93 million and probably a great deal more, saying: “Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalised and excluded groups in society, facing daily discrimination in the form of negative attitudes, lack of adequate policies and legislation [In many cases] they are effectively barred from realising their rights.”

We urge all operators to take this matter ever more seriously – to examine current policy, practice, investment plans, staff training and marketing – to see what more can be done to make our industry open, accessible and inclusive.

We welcome feedback about best practice in this area for our letters pages, so if you have something to share with the wider industry, please write to us and let us know and we’ll publish your story. Write to theteam@attractionsmanagement.com

 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2018

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
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