When God placed individuals with special needs on my heart back in high school, I had no way of knowing He was already preparing me for life with my daughter, Morgan. She has physical and cognitive special needs.
Loving a child with special needs has taught me a lot about the fragility of life and how to see the world through a different lens. Just through her smiles and hugs, she is able to inspire others. I am blessed to have her in my life. And, she is the inspiration behind everything I do.
After I retired at an early age, I felt called to provide services for the special needs community based on our own experiences with Morgan. I learned early on that Morgan is one of the lucky ones when it comes to having access to medical care. It is costly and difficult, and many of those in the special needs community simply do not have the ability to get their children the help they need. I wanted to develop things and places that would make their lives better and help them feel included.
I developed Morgan’s Wonderland, the first fully inclusive and ultra-accessible family fun park, after a personal experience. I was with Morgan in a pool one day where other children were playing. When Morgan tried to play ball with these children, they ran off. As a parent, I recognized the hurt and confusion in my daughter’s eyes. Because of this incident, I started thinking about where I could take her to play with children where everyone would feel included.
With Morgan as my inspiration, I have gone on to develop the theme park and the first fully-accessible water park. In these parks, the word “can’t” does not exist. Everyone is included. The park is open to all citizens and those with special needs always get in free, removing this common financial barrier. Families have visited Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island from all over the country and around the world. I hope the next time something like Morgan’s pool incident happens, people will be more inclusive since they have had everyday experiences with those who have special needs.
The Bible calls us to help others, especially those often overlooked. No one, no matter how acute their needs, is overlooked here.
John BuckleyMarch 16, 2018 at 4:42 am
We have three additional needs children and accessibility, inclusion and understanding are in short supply sometimes. We ourselves can feel isolated as a result. We chose to parent additional needs children through adoption and wouldn’t change anything. Thank you for this inspirational article.
joann ashleyJuly 31, 2019 at 7:48 pm
thank god for jesus. joann ashley