World’s First All-Accessible Water Park

Inspiration-Island-Map

Image this:  A child who has never had the opportunity to be completely immersed in what would be considered a typical summer activity.  Why?  Because s/he is confined to a wheelchair or has autism or a brain injury.

I guess you don’t have to imagine it, do it?  With all the ADA-compliance modifications that have already been made – and they are wonderful, the world is still largely out of reach for anyone with special needs.

There have been times when I have cried because I was sidelined because of a physical barrier.  And, if I cried, I can only imagine how often a child has wept because s/he was relegated to an observer-only status.

Now, image this:  A child or adult with special needs has the opportunity to be completely immersed in a typical summer activity.  What a fantastic idea!

Well, we don’t have to use our imaginations anymore; someone has finally taken the barriers away:  Gordon Hartman, the creator of the world’s first ultra-accessible water park.  It is a fantastic idea, and it is a reality!

“Children and adults who have special needs are sometimes left out, not because they want to be but because sometimes things are not always adequate for them to use,” Hartman said.

Today is the opening day for Morgan’s Inspiration Island.  A $17 million tropical-themed water park located in San Antonio, Texas.  This astonishing park (check out the above link) merges those with and without disabilities into one experience. The greatest part of all is that it includes all special needs people.

There are waterproof wheelchairs that use compressed air instead of batteries (which the University of Pittsburgh helped develop); waterproof wristbands for those who tend to wander, quiet areas for those who get overwhelmed, and a way to quickly change water temperature for those who are sensitive to cold water.  There’s more:  fast passes for those who have trouble waiting in line, private wheelchair transfer areas, and the riverboat adventure attraction boats rise to meet passengers (instead of wheelchair ramps).

Admission?  FREE FOR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES.

Anyone up for a road trip to Texas?

 

 

 

Like A Turtle on Its Back

It was one of those mornings, Spring shining through the windows.  The promise of warm breezes and light jackets.  My favorite way to wake up.  Smiling, I lifted myself up.  Wait, no.  Rather than sitting up, I had remained prone.  Okay, I’ll try to push a little harder.  Nope.  That didn’t work.  Time and time again, I tried – and I failed.  You’ve heard of frogs turning into princes.  Well, I guess I had turned into a turtle on its back.

I happen to be married to one of those sweetheart kind of guys.  Knowing that if I quietly called to him, he would wake up and eagerly help me.  I guess I could say he loves his turtle.  Yet, there was no morning urgency to rise.  So, instead of waking him up as I had in similar situations in the past, I decided to let him sleep.  This old turtle could wait out the time with prayer.  Eventually, he stirred and my prince charming turned me into his princess.

The before Rose – the one who existed before a degenerative neuromuscular disease claimed her body – she would not have been given to wait out any situation.  She was always having to do, to go, and to act.  There are many disadvantages to living trapped in a body that doesn’t work very well, but there are some advantages, too.   This morning’s advantage was to let myself be helpless.  Rather than thrashing out against an unmovable force, I chose contentment.

It has not been an easy metamorphosis, and I am not changing from an earthbound, crawling bug into something that can fly in the light.  My conversion is taking away freedom of movement, incremental, almost indiscernable pieces of my life – my physical life.  In its place, I am finding an upside down turtle.  My choices are obvious.  Do I pull myself into my shell and hide away?  Or, do I lie there vulnerable and patient?

Patience and contentment are choices even when my life is not upside down.

 

The Untapped Ability in Disability

In this post, Cal gives us a glimpse into the nitty-gritty of living with a degenerative neuromuscular disease (DMD). However, he doesn’t stop there. Embedded in his post, he also gives us a glimpse into the mindset needed to persevere through the struggle. The end result? You decide.

An Angel Fell From The Sky #8/13

Who is your angel?

Frank Solanki

He used to call me names

Throw paper balls at me

Would drop a toad on my desk

And on some days even three

I would help him in his homework

He never would thank me back

Only thing I got in return

Were the silly jokes that he’d crack

He used to dress so shabbily

To school, he was always late

I even told my mother once

“That’s the boy I hate”

That’s how our story went

Until I broke my foot one day

It was somewhere in February

I had to stay in bed till May

He would come and visit me

Dressed appropriate and fine

And joke that he was first to school

While others reached by nine

He would bring all the notes from school

And occasionally flowers and chocolates

My mother even asked me once

“Isn’t that the boy you hate?”

That’s how our…

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Failure is Inevitable

 

Blue-Moon

Two weeks ago, I wrote the following: ” Failure is always inevitable for a successful life.”

When I first penned this conviction, I wondered if it would ring true for you.  Have you ever felt the same way?


Failure Example #1:  When I was about 8 years old, my sisters and I spent the summer at my grandparent’s modest home in Wisconsin.  One day, playing at the end of a shallow canal, I noticed crayfish crawling along the muddy bottom.  Many times I had watched my older sisters catch these beautiful, rust-colored creatures with their bulging eyes and claws held wide open.  On this particular bright, sunny day, I thrust my hand into the cool, still water and made a grab for the largest one.  Brave one moment and cowardly the next, I yanked my hand out of the water with a crawfish dangling firmly from the index finger of my left hand.  With adrenaline pumping and heart pounding, I shook my hand violently, and the tiny lobster landed on the sandy shore.  As it sat there stunned, I seized the empty coffee can next to me and threw it at the terrifying monster. Suddenly, its shell split open and blue blood mixed with yellow slime oozed out.  Just as quickly as it had coursed through my veins, my fear transformed into remorse.  My pumping heart stopped: I had killed a living creature.

The lesson:  Fear is often the catalyst to violence.


Failure Example #2:  As a Sophmore in high school, I wrote a science fiction piece for my Creative Writing class.  Looking forward to my teacher’s feedback, my jaw dropped open as I read the notation at the top of my paper: “Grade:  F.  See me after class.”

Waiting for my classmates to slowly filter out of the room, I approached him – paper quivering in my outstretched hand.  My brain scrambled to make sense of the words that tumbled out of his mouth.  Finally, I heard “plagiarized.”    I protested and asked him to tell me what story I had copied.

“I don’t know, but you could have not come up with this story on your own,” he replied with unfounded certainty.

He went on to tell me in great detail his perception of me.  I was quiet and did not participate in class.  My previous assignments were uninspired.  As a result, he decided that I could not have created the story on my own because the paper I submitted was imaginative and beyond anything I could have written.  Thus, he concluded because I had plagiarized, I deserved the failing grade.

Hot tears welling up, I left the room and called my mother.  She had been in the kitchen when I had written the piece at the table, and she offered to come to school to give witness.  Not wanting to bring any further attention to myself, I refused her help.  Failing to pursue the matter with the school office left me with no recourse at the end of the school term: that one undeserved, unfair, prejudicial, failing grade impacted my final grade in the class.

The lesson:  Perception is often incorrect.  People are capable of more than you think.


Failure Example #3:  As I grew older, I became concerned about performance – doing a good job, being a good parent, or having a good appearance.  Sadly, my focus on performance was not confined to me, but I applied the same strict benchmark of achievement to others.  Even though I cared about people and what they were facing, I secretly sat in judgment of the decisions they made.  My previous lesson caused me to swing too far in the other direction.  I believed that anyone could do anything if they tried hard enough.

During my clinical rotation as a nursing student, I encountered patients that compromised their health with continuing questionable behaviors.  One experience was the time I spent caring for a middle-aged man who had a permanent trachea as the result of throat cancer.  The first time I met him, we sat in the Family Room at the end of the corridor.  As I reviewed his medical history with him, he enjoyed smoking a cigarette via the trachea opening.

When I went home that night and reviewed my day, I found an unsuppressible anger welling up inside me.  My young husband had died just six short months earlier from cancer.  How could Mr. Patient X continue to smoke?  He had throat cancer, and he continues to smoke!  Why doesn’t he just quit?

Because it was easy for me to live a disciplined life, I expected everyone to be able to do the same.  I lacked compassion for those who had a difficult time making changes when it came to life-choice decisions.  When I decided to quit smoking, I quit.  No struggle; no backsliding.  As I encountered people who tried but failed to quit smoking, I failed to empathize.  I even failed to realize that I failed to empathize.

The lesson:  Compassion is more important than perfection.


“I have failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”  
                                                                                                                           Michael Jordan

 


I know that I will continue to fail for it is the way of life.  Often, failures are the main theme of our stories.  They are the interlocking threads that make up the fabric of our life.  In many ways, our failures serve us better than our successes.

Failures are destabilizing, and the resulting disequilibrium demands attention.  Maybe that’s the point: We learn from our failures.  They teach us valuable lessons.   To fear failure is to fear life.

Welcome failures.  They are the stepping stones to your destiny.