It can be a difficult world, this one we live in. Many of us have been in the horrible position where we have had to comfort our precious little ones after a bad day at school. From unkind remarks and general nastiness, to even worse cases of bullying, both children and adults have the capacity to be unkind one to the one hand and to feel hurt on the other. Growing up and just going about life can be particularly difficult for those with special needs.
We know from our time at school that one of the worst accusations that can be hurled our way is that we are ‘different’, that we don’t fit in, and that we won’t be included. The deep pain, confusion and hurt from these words and experiences can be felt years later. The pain of exclusion, either from human efforts or the inability for people to operate in a certain context is a circumstance that most of us would wish to prevent. One man put his efforts, his time, his money and his heart into that effort. Gordon Hartman built not just one theme park but two for his daughter and anyone else in the world who has special needs.
Gordon had consistently seen and experienced over the decades, as he raised his daughter Morgan, that she wasn’t able to enjoy and be included in many of the theme parks that other kids her age were going to and loving. The pain and frustration at seeing his daughter unable to have fun as a kid, to enjoy the activities that millions of kids from around the world were doing set him thinking. How could he help his daughter? How could he use his skills and resources to make a safe place where she and kids with her needs could be fully kids? What would that look like? Well, in 2010 after years and years of work, that vision became a reality in Morgan’s Wonderland.
In a spectacular show of love, dedication and priorities, Gordon Hartman sold his construction business to make Morgan’s Wonderland a reality. He gathered a team together, worked incredibly hard and you only need to watch a few seconds of the video to realise that his passion to see inclusion has brought and will continue to bring inexplicable joy to countless children and their parents.
A world of inclusivity, where ‘difference’ is celebrated and incorporated into how our environments of school, business, theme parks, homes and restaurants are made and operated, what a world would that be? It would likely yield for places that build people up and set them up to achieve in their beautiful and unique way.