Last week, we were pleased to welcome two visitors from France and their State Department liaison to San Antonio. Fortunately and unfortunately, they were slated to arrive in San Antonio the day before Thanksgiving and leave the Saturday after.
This unique timetable allowed them to join SACIV members for Thanksgiving where they were able to participate in the great American tradition of turkey, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes while thinking on the past year and all that there was to be thankful for. The visitors loved taking part in this celebration with members of our community who had opened their homes to them.
This timing did mean that the options for our visitors in terms of professional resources were fairly limited. Many organizations and individuals were not open Saturday to meet with our visitors. Luckily, however, Morgan’s Wonderland was able to open their doors to our IVLP participants last Friday and take them on a tour of their wonderful park. As the visitors stepped into the park, it immediately became clear that the non-profit, mission-driven climate of Morgan’s Wonderland had created a whole new kind of amusement park. From adaptive monkey bars to a one-of-a-kind “Sensory Village” to wheelchair-accessible swings and rides, Morgan’s Wonderland had innumerable innovations that demonstrated thought had been paid to every detail of the park.
Visitors were also treated to a tour of Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the accompanying water park next door. Though it was currently in the off-season, they were still able to see the tweaks and accessibility-related changes that had endeared this new addition to their audience. For example, the water park includes, like similar parks, a bucket of water which will fill and then splash the playing children. However, for visually impaired children, they may not be able to see the bucket filling and dumping. So as to prevent accidents or unwelcome surprises, the bucket also has a soundtrack that accompanies it and speeds up until it warns when the water will splash.
The visitors were impressed by the attention to detail that accompanied every aspect of the park. They also enjoyed hearing from their guide, Danielle Henning, about the Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland and the nearby medical services they have partnered to create. This makes Morgan’s Wonderland not just a great place for children of any ability to play, but it is also a one-stop shop for parents, caregivers, and disabled children to seek a variety of complementary services.
Before leaving San Antonio, the visitors were also able to do some sight-seeing at the Riverwalk, the Spanish Missions, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. At the Missions, the National Park Service was able to talk to the visitors about how they have endeavored to make the park accessible and ADA compliant. The pair from France thoroughly enjoyed these trips as well in addition to their appointment at Morgan’s Wonderland. Although it was a less busy program, they still found plenty of interest in San Antonio to help them improve inclusivity globally.