A Texan built an inclusive water park. It says a lot about how we design our world.

Gordon Hartman was unsatisfied with the typical water park.

Water parks are a fun way to cool down in the summer heat, but they're often not very inclusive for people with special needs. Hartman decided to change that.

His daughter, Morgan, has a cognitive disability that makes it hard for her to communicate. In watching her try to interact with other kids, he realized he wanted to create spaces where she — and other kids like her — were able to easily join in on the fun, ABC News reports.


Hartman went on to build Morgan's Wonderland, an amusement park in San Antonio, Texas, that opened in 2010. It features rides and attractions specifically designed for guests with disabilities.

Once the amusement park was open, Hartman set his eyes on water parks. For the next five years, he and his team worked with therapists, caregivers, parents, doctors, and water park experts to completely rethink what a water park could be for people with disabilities.

They broke ground in November 2015 and finally had their grand opening on June 17, 2017.

What they created is a stunning facility designed to make sure everyone can have fun.

This is, like, awesome Roman Mars' "99% Invisible"-type stuff. Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

It's called Morgan's Inspiration Island, and while there are accessible options in other water parks, Inspiration Island's dedication to inclusiveness goes beyond the pale.

Instead of steep-walled pools, guests can get soaked on splash pads instead, which are much friendlier for people with limited mobility.

Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

They can rush through rain curtains and geysers or take a spin behind (or in front of) a water cannon.

She might look cute, but beware, she can kill a man at 30 paces. Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

Spacious walkways and play areas make sure everyone can move around without restriction. There are also private areas for transferring in and out of wheelchairs as well.

Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

Waterproof wheelchairs make sure technology doesn't limit access either.

Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

For guests with battery-powered wheelchairs, getting hit with a water cannon might seem like a terrible idea. That's why the park teamed up with the University of Pittsburgh to create a waterproof version. The chairs, called the PneuChair, run on compressed air, not electricity, so a dip in the pool is perfectly safe. They're also designed to be lightweight and fast-charging to make sure the guests don't have to wait to have fun in the sun.

Photo from Morgan's Inspiration Island.

Parkgoers can enjoy a warmer water temperature at the reef exhibit to make it more tolerable and comfortable.

Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

Meanwhile, waterproof RFID-enabled wristbands help parents keep track of children.

Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

The wristbands make sure that if a kid wanders off, it's easy for parents to find them again.

Normal water parks can get overwhelming. At Morgan's Inspiration Island, they've created plenty of quiet, private spaces for guests to step away when they need.

Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

The park also purposefully caps the number of guests they let in at a time to make sure it never gets too crowded. People can make reservations online ahead of time.

The park is even economically-accessible — anyone with special needs is admitted free of charge. Being in Texas, water conservation is important too. The park is designed to continuously filter and recirculate its water, providing a clean, refreshing experience while also wasting as little as possible.

For Hartman, designing this park was about making sure everyone has a place to play and have fun.

Photo from Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics.

"Morgan's Inspiration Island is not a special-needs park; it's a park of inclusion," Hartman said in a press release.

Everyone is welcome here, and through their empathetic, thoughtful approach, they really do mean everyone.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via CNN / Twitter

Eviction seemed imminent for Dasha Kelly, 32, and her three young daughters Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, on Monday. The eviction moratorium expired over the weekend and it looked like there was no way for them to avoid becoming homeless.

The former Las Vegas card dealer lost her job due to casino closures during the pandemic and needed $2,000 to cover her back rent. The mother of three couldn't bear the thought of being put out of her apartment with three children in the scorching Nevada desert.

"I had no idea what we were going to do," Kelly said, according to KOAT.

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