I typically deal with the disabilities that are written down as part of the ADA and I typically just deal with the built environment when I do my consulting work. But this weekend my eyes and mind were open to a huge and untapped world! While at the Texas Society of Architects convention in San Antonio, Texas I was priviliaged to attend one of the tours to a park called "Morgan's Wonderland". It is an amusement park for children with special needs. And what an amazing place!!!! The first thing you notice is that it does not look or feel like it is a "special" amusement park. It looks like a fun and safe place for all children. What a treat (the only complaint I had was that when we went the park was closed so I was not able to see how the children enjoyed the park...Next time)
A lot of time was spent in the design and care was taken to be all inclusive. And they succeeded! As we toured, the architect Kyle Tostenson from Luna Architecture in San Antonio, explained how they laid out the park for all the different disabilities, making it truly Univesal. The first stop we made was to the Carousel. The Carousel was equipped with all kinds of seats for each type of disability. Of course it had the regular seats, horses, chickens, dragons. But they also had ones with back support, ones for wheel chairs, and ones that were stationary for those who did not want to go up and down. It was a wonderful adaptation. All children can enjoy.
But beyond the physical impairedness comes the emotional and cognitive impairdness. For those children who are ovewhelmed by change and too many people, the one's that are autistic, the park decided to purchase a stationary horse that is right outside the carousel. That horse is out so that the child can experience the carousel and get used to it until he or she is ready to ride the real deal.
The entire park was one impressive experience after the other. There was fun rides, safe rides, rides that played on the senses, rides that allowed kids to be kids in a safe environment!