Waterpark for differently abled people: giving accessibility a whole new meaning

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Image: Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics/ Simplemost

With the summer season in full swing, waterparks every year record a high number of footfall for people just wanting to enjoy the hot summer days in the cool relaxing comforts of the water. Splash, dip and swim helps you and your loved ones de-stress. But differently-abled people are often deprived from experiencing this pleasure and cooling off during the hot summers.

But a new waterpark is all set to change this. Morgan’s Inspirational Island in San Antonio, Texas has successfully designed the world’s first waterpark for differently abled people.The tropical-themed park will feature at least six attractions that are accessible for differently abled people. These include river splash pads – geysers, water cannons and waves that have been exclusively designed for people with a cognitive or physical disability – and a boat ride that is different from ones found in regular waterparks.

To make sure that there is no hindrance in the experience of differently abled people, the park went as far as to bring in researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and worked with them to design wheelchairs that are waterproof. These Air powered wheelchairs, named PneuChairs, are different from the traditional ones as they not only weigh less but also run on compressed air, a well-thought alternative to battery-run regular ones. With these visitors will not have to worry about the risk of damaging their personal expensive ones. In fact, it also allows caretakers of wheelchair bound people to enjoy the number of recreational activities that the park has to offers with high-tech, waterproof wristbands. These bands help in locating people with disabilities as many often tend to wander and want to explore on their own.

Image: Simplemost

Understanding that not all differently abled people are comfortable in crowded areas. The Island has designated quitter areas that allows people to enjoy in comparative silence. They have also made sure to only allow a considerable number of people in a day, marking them with caps provided at the entrance. Moreover, considering that some differently abled people are more sensitive than others a special feature has been installed in the pools that immediately changes the temperature of the water if it happens to be too cold for some so that parkgoers can enjoy without any disturbance.

Morgan Inspiration Island is the second of the two inclusive theme parks, giving a whole new meaning to accessibility and inclusivity for differently abled people. Created by the Hartman family, the first in the series was Morgan’s Wonderland, a 25-acre theme park that opened in 2010, which was also designed to be fully accessible for everyone. Seven years after its success the tropical-themed waterpark will open its doors on June 17th for the members of the Morgan’s Wonderland.

A tribute to their daughter Morgan living with disability, Gordon and Maggie Hartman built these parks and named them after her, after they saw her struggling to play with kids at a swimming pool in a hotel they visited.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island envisions to provide a better understanding to people of the different disabilities many suffer from apart from helping differently abled people enjoy to their fullest. This is why Gordon doesn’t want people to call the waterpark a “special needs park”, but instead a “park of inclusion”.

In order to ensure its full-accessibility for everyone, the park will not be charging any fee for differently abled people.

So if you are looking to enjoy the waters this summer, head to Morgan’s Inspiration Island that will open from 11am to 3pm this Saturday. Reservations can be made online.

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