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.

More
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

Keep Reading Show less
Innovation

There's something delicious and addicting about those trendy recipe videos circulating online. You've seen them before: the quick and beautiful play-by-plays of mouthwatering dishes you wish you were eating at this very moment.

The recipes seem so simple and magical and get you thinking, "Maybe I can make that five-cheese bacon lasagna tonight." And before you know it, you're at the store loading up on Colby-Monterey Jack (or is that just me?).

For some families, though, the ingredients and final product look a little different. As part of Hunger Action Month, the hunger-relief organization Feeding America is using our obsession with cooking videos to highlight the reality many food-insecure families face when they sit down for dinner: hunger, and no food in sight.

By putting a twist on the bite-sized food videos all over the internet, they hope to raise awareness that hunger is an unacceptable reality for too many families.

Keep Reading Show less
Family
True
Gates Foundation: The Story of Food