There's a Water Park For Kids With Disabilities, and It's Free For Anyone With Special Needs
There's nothing more fun than splashing in the water and cooling off during the hot Summer months, but for families who have kiddos with special needs, stopping by a water park isn't necessarily a carefree option.
For children or adults with disabilities, these spots usually aren't entirely accessible, leaving their options limited or nonexistent. However, Morgan's Inspiration Island is a water park that's completely changing the game. The tropical-themed facility, which opened in June 2017 in San Antonio, TX, is fully wheelchair accessible and was designed with a large range of disabilities in mind to be entirely inclusive for all guests.
The park's six main attractions include an accessible river boat ride, a variety of themed splash pads, and a giant water tree house. Not only is the water park free for anyone with disabilities, but they also created waterproof wheelchairs that are propelled with compressed air (available to rent and also free of charge!) to protect any personal equipment.
"Our goal is to provide a great guest experience in an inclusive, safe, comfortable, not-overly-crowded environment," Gordon Hartman, the park's founder, said in a news release. "Our guests in expensive battery-powered wheelchairs can't afford to get them wet, so we have special Morgan's Inspiration Island PneuChairs along with two other waterproof wheelchair models: a push-stroller type for guests needing assistance from a caregiver for mobility and a rigid-frame, manual wheelchair for guests who can push themselves."
Over the past four years, the water park's team has collaborated with consultants, doctors, special-needs therapists, special-education teachers, parents, and caregivers to help families enjoy experiences that previously weren't possible. Other park features include waterproof wristbands with RFID technology, so parents can easily locate their kids if they get separated, as well as an area with warm water for anyone with sensitivity to the cold.
Gordon, whose 23-year-old daughter inspired the park, hopes that the community will view it as a "park of inclusion" instead of labeling it is a "special needs" destination. "Morgan's Inspiration Island will concentrate on inclusion and inspire guests to do things previously thought not to be in their range of capabilities," he said. "Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals in wheelchairs, guests with hearing and visual impairments, and even guests on ventilators, will be able to play alongside each other and gain a greater appreciation of one another."