Why you might want to visit this inclusive amusement park on your next vacation.

I can still remember my first trip to an amusement park as a child.

I remember the anticipation and excitement that came from choosing my favorite horse on the carousel, my mother lifting me up and placing me in the saddle, and instantly being transported into a world of wonder and amusement.

Unfortunately, amusement parks aren't always accessible to all people. There are countless children and adults with disabilities or special needs who would seemingly never be able to experience a theme park like I could.


But that’s changing.

Life is a carousel. I'm gonna ride it. All images via Morgan's Wonderland, used with permission.

An amusement park in Texas has created a world where everyone can make those memories.

Reeling in a big catch in the fully stocked catch-and-release pond.

Morgan's Wonderland is a one-of-a-kind theme park where every attraction is specially designed for "100% inclusion" of those with disabilities.

Music to my ears.

The San Antonio-based park has a long list of unique rides and experiences, including carousels made for people in wheelchairs, off-road jeeps with built-in ramps and compartments to allow full wheelchair access, a fully stocked fishing pond with minders to help anyone reel in that big catch, wheelchair swing sets, and roughly 20 other rides and attractions, all created to serve people with a range of special needs.

A journey of the senses.

The Sensory Village entertains the senses of those with cognitive challenges through interactive videos and a news station that lets you conduct a weather forecast and see yourself on TV. Want to try galloping? Mechanical horses replicate the experience of riding for people who might not otherwise be able to.

Ready to hit the open road in a car simulator.

Opened in 2010 by philanthropist Gordon Hartman, who was previously a prominent real estate developer, Morgan’s Wonderland has provided fun and laughter to 65,000 children and adults from over 60 countries and all 50 states.

They’ve done so completely free of charge to those with disabilities or special needs, too. As a nonprofit, they are fueled by donations.

The motivation for the park came from Gordon Hartman’s own family life.

The namesake and inspiration for the park is Morgan Hartman, the 21-year-old daughter of Gordon and Maggie Hartman, who is cognitively challenged and also has some physical special needs.

Morgan and Gordon Hartman.


Gordon recalls watching his daughter at the pool, attempting to play with other children on a vacation. He noticed that the other children were unsure of how to interact with Morgan and subsequently didn’t include her. The kids weren’t being mean, according to Hartman. “They didn’t know how to play with or understand her,” he told Upworthy.

Knowing that there were millions of people just like Morgan, he envisioned a park where the culture was in line with their needs and specially designed to ensure inclusion. Then he built it.


Gordon Hartman with daughter Morgan Hartman and Wonderland mascot Joy.

Fast-forward five years, and they are now expanding the idea even further.

In November, the park announced it would break ground on what they call the world’s first “ultra inclusion” waterpark.

It will feature unique wheelchair access and have special considerations for those who are hearing or visually impaired.

Water. Always a good time.

Morgan’s Wonderland is helping create a culture of acceptance.

The hope is that the idea of inclusion will continue outside the walls of the park and into society. Here, kids and adults of all abilities play together every day while increasing their awareness and understanding of one another. Gordon made it very clear that this is a park for everybody and not just those with special needs.

Morgan's Wonderland is important not only because it overcame countless design challenges to provide fun for everyone but also because it’s trying to inspire an ethos, a way of being, a culture of acceptance and inclusion in our society as a whole.

And let’s not forget this part: It’s a lot of fun.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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