After building an amusement park for special needs children, one kind dad became a hero in his community. Gordon Hartman felt inspired to create the park after taking his family on vacation. His daughter Morgan is on the autism spectrum and requires special cognitive and physical care. On the trip, Hartman tried to find opportunities for her to play safely and thought the hotel pool seemed like the perfect idea.
While the family swam, Hartman noticed that his then 12-year-old daughter struggled to make friends. As she got closer to the other children, they grew apprehensive and bolted out of the pool. Hartman will never forget the disappointed and hurt expression on Morgan’s face. He felt heartbroken and vowed to find a park where Morgan could play comfortably and feel included.
However, after researching, Hartman realized that no theme parks existed for autistic or special needs children.So, he decided to build the park himself for Morgan and other differently abled children. On April 10, 2010, he unveiled Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first theme park designed for special needs children. In 2017, the Ultra-Accessible™ theme park opened its addition, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a splash park complete with a riverboat adventure ride and a giant treehouse.
The park made TIME Magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” list in 2018. The park is located in San Antonio, Texas, and caters to people with and without special needs. Hartman said he wanted to create a place where everyone could interact and understand one another better. Both theme park areas promote inclusion to benefit all children, regardless of their needs or abilities.
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