Maggie Hartman: She’s Making Playtime Accessible

August 16 - On The Dot
 
FIRST THOUGHT: Esprit de Corps

They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The same can be said for change. For instance, maybe your instinct is to cringe at a kid’s public meltdown, but once you have a kid, you totally understand—and may even wholeheartedly accept—the situation. You critique your boss’ management style until you become a supervisor, then you grasp just how difficult it can be to lead others. It might be even less significant than that, like when you simply feel no empathy for someone else struggling with a situation until a similar circumstance hits close to home. Today, move past thinking, “I couldn’t imagine!” and, instead, dish out a little more understanding than usual.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 44 Percent

If you’ve ever been to camp—summer camp, day camp, overnight camp or what have you—then you know the value such experiences have in enriching our lives. We make new friends, have exciting adventures and learn lots of cool new stuff. And when it comes to camp, it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, active or crafty, able bodied or have special needs; camp is for everyone, and that’s one of its best qualities. According to the American Camp Association, which represents 2,400 accredited camps serving more than 7 million children in the U.S., as many as 44 percent of camps offer specialized programs specifically for those with disabilities or special needs, with 93 percent of camps offering some form of financial assistance for such families to ensure every single kid who wants to attend camp has the capability to do so.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Maggie Hartman, Co-founder of Morgan’s Wonderland

I discovered today’s benevolent Woman to Watch through the fantastic nonprofit Sam’s Posse. The organization works to enrich the lives of children with intellectual and physical disabilities by supporting other nonprofits with the same goal, like Morgan’s Wonderland. Founded by Maggie Hartman and her husband, Morgan’s Wonderland is the only theme park of its kind that serves the special-needs community. And y’all, it totally rocks!

Maggie and her husband were inspired to create this adventure of a park by their special-needs daughter, Morgan, who always has a smile on her face. In 2005, while on vacation, they noticed Morgan wanted to play with the other kiddos in the hotel swimming pool, but sadly, was shunned by them. Right that moment, the couple vowed to create a place where kids with and without disabilities could come together for fun, as well as gain connection and a better understanding of one another. Thus, Morgan’s Wonderland was born.

Morgan’s Wonderland, a 100 percent wheelchair-accessible amusement park with 25 different rides, playgrounds and attractions—including a pirate island, an interactive sand circle, high-flying wheelchair swings and heaps more—was lovingly built in an abandoned quarry near San Antonio, Texas. And from the very beginning, Maggie and her husband vowed that every person with a special need can enter the park for free.

Since its launch in 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland has welcomed more than 1 million guests from every state and 65 countries. But Maggie isn’t stopping there. Through The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, this kindhearted woman devotes her life to helping kids and adults with special needs. Her most recent venture is the newly opened Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a tropical-themed, all-inclusive splash park that even offers waterproof wheelchairs.

Maggie’s compassion is transforming families’ lives every day, and we couldn’t agree more with her own family’s motto: “Together, we are making a difference!” Thank you, Maggie, for providing a space that makes the world a brighter, happier place for all kids.

QUITE THE QUOTE

Today’s quote comes from Michael Pritchard, an anti-bullying advocate and author. He said:

“One of the great things that any community can do is not teach tolerance, but live tolerance, not talk respect, but live inclusivity.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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