Playtime is for Everybody.

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

To download these free stories, please enter the newspaper publication you represent with your email address.
We will email you when we add new stories each month. Thanks!

Note: We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our contact data or lists to third parties.
Please see our privacy policy for details.

Please enter your organization and email above before downloading these articles.

Download PDF Word .doc Download Photo .jpg

Pass It On®

Playtime is for Everybody.
A dad sells off his business and builds a theme park for disabled kids.

By The Foundation for a Better Life

Gordon Hartman just might be the leading candidate for “Dad of the Decade.” When his daughter Morgan was growing up, Gordon was heartbroken after watching her on the playground. Other children refused to play with her, mostly because her disabilities meant she couldn’t access the places where they were playing. The family tried other places but were never satisfied.

“What we found was there was no place that was an ultra-accessible, fully inclusive park,” Gordon said. So he went home and sold his construction business, bought an abandoned quarry, and went to work building an entire amusement park for disabled children.

All kids need playtime, and Morgan was no different. The park — named Morgan’s Wonderland — finally offered Morgan that opportunity. What the Hartmans discovered is that kids without disabilities enjoy the park just as much, and they interact a lot more with everyone when all are included. In fact, three-quarters of the park’s visitors are not disabled. And that makes it all the more fun.

Everybody enjoys the rides, from the carousel to the train. Each ride is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Even the water park provides waterproof wheelchairs.

Watching the kids play together without barriers makes you realize that we are all the same, and having fun is for everybody. But it doesn’t end there. One-third of the staff also has special needs. Seeing the way they interact also puts a smile on your face. They take their jobs seriously, and they make sure everybody is having fun.

How does it feel to see kids of all abilities having so much fun? “It feels fantastic because we get to see people who are not given the opportunity to experience the types of rides we have, get on a carousel, get on a train easily, go fishing,” says Gordon.

The park has been visited by people with special needs from over 67 countries. “When we opened this, we didn’t know if it was going to work,” says Gordon. “All we wanted to do was bring people who have special needs and people who don’t have special needs together and play.”

Just look at the smiles at Morgan’s Wonderland, and you’ll see how much good it does.

Inclusion... PassItOn.com®

Copyright ©2022 The Foundation for a Better Life. All rights reserved. Available under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License (international): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Pass It On®

The Foundation for a Better Life, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, gives your newspaper permission to publish these stories in print and electronic media (excluding audio and video), provided the stories are published in their entirety, without modification and including the copyright notice. For any modification, permission must first be obtained from the Foundation by emailing media-relations@passiton.com. Thank you.

  email

Your Comments
Here are some other inspiring newspaper articles you might like.
Never, Ever Give Up.

Never, Ever Give Up.
The incredible story of the 12-year-old cancer patient who brings joy to half a million children fighting cancer.

The World Awaits You.

The World Awaits You.
The story of the first woman to circumnavigate the world.

Sometimes the Wrong Direction is the Right Way.

Sometimes the Wrong Direction is the Right Way.
How a wrong number, a wrong text and a mix-up led to long-lasting friendships.

Education is for Everyone.

Education is for Everyone.
Reading and writing are the basics of an education. See why a 90-year-old Kenyan great-grandmother went back to primary school.

The Future Belongs to Kids.

The Future Belongs to Kids.
So far, things look pretty bright.

The Art of Pitching.

The Art of Pitching.
A little confidence at the right time goes a long way.

Recognizing the Need.

Recognizing the Need.
How a neighbor took a disaffected young man under his wing and taught him how to be a man

Finding a New Family at the Mountain Man Rendezvous.

Finding a New Family at the Mountain Man Rendezvous.
How a Vietnam vet pulled himself out of drug addiction by going back in the past.

How to Honor Your Mother.

How to Honor Your Mother.
Warrick Dunn played in the NFL for 12 seasons. His most impressive stat: He’s built 200 homes for single mothers. And he’s not done.

Everybody Gets on Base.

Everybody Gets on Base.
Measuring the victories of life, one single at a time.

No Matter Who You Are, You Can Always Help.

No Matter Who You Are, You Can Always Help.
The day Muhammad Ali rushed to save a stranger who was about to take his own life.

Teamwork that Saves Lives.

Teamwork that Saves Lives.
How a high school baseball team lifted a car off one of their classmates pinned underneath.

The Brotherhood in Sports Goes Beyond the Field.

The Brotherhood in Sports Goes Beyond the Field.
How a men’s rugby team supported one of their own.

Overcoming Our Own Worst Mistakes.

Overcoming Our Own Worst Mistakes.
Kaelin Clay made an unpardonable error in football. And he owned it.

More Than Just Dancing

More Than Just Dancing
How inclusion helps overcome mental illness.

The Least Likely to Help.

The Least Likely to Help.
How a bedridden attorney still fights for the rights of others.

The History of Us.

The History of Us.
How a football coach develops young men by teaching them their own history.

Bringing the Moon to your Living Room.

Bringing the Moon to your Living Room.
How 14-year-old Philo Farnsworth tinkered his way to the technology that broadcast the moon landing.

Don’t Let a Bad Day Trick You Into Believing You Have a Bad Life.

Don’t Let a Bad Day Trick You Into Believing You Have a Bad Life.
Allie Newman not only survived cancer but also helps hospitals better meet the needs of teenage cancer patients.

To Stay or Run?

To Stay or Run?
The courageous story of a collegiate wrestler who fought a grizzly bear to save a friend. With thanks to the Cowboy State Daily.

A Custom of Respect.

A Custom of Respect.
How the Japanese soccer team brings sportsmanship to the game.

How Far Would you go for a Friend?

How Far Would you go for a Friend?
The story of Dindim, the penguin who travels 5,000 miles every year to visit with its rescuer.

Never Give Up.

Never Give Up.
Lessons learned from Preston Tucker, creator of one of the most innovative cars in American history.

A Hero for Accessibility.

A Hero for Accessibility.
How an 8-year-old girl captured the attention of the nation and motivated Congress.

Beyond the Moon with an Eye on Mars.

Beyond the Moon with an Eye on Mars.
The story of a young woman who dreamed of pushing the boundaries and now designs launch systems for NASA.

If You Love Dogs, You’ll Love this Story.

If You Love Dogs, You’ll Love this Story.
A German shepherd slept at his owner’s gravesite.

A Lesson We Should Never Forget.

A Lesson We Should Never Forget.
The incredible story of American POWs smuggling rations to Russian prisoners at Stalag-B.

Laughter is the Best Teacher.

Laughter is the Best Teacher.
How humor and history go together in this classroom.

Including Everybody Means Everybody.

Including Everybody Means Everybody.
How Inclusion Films is making movies using crew with developmental disabilities.

The Science of Happiness.

The Science of Happiness.
How a high school senior made sure an entire elementary school got Halloween.

For Soccer Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Every Day is Mother’s Day.

For Soccer Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Every Day is Mother’s Day.
Fortune and fame have allowed the soccer great to take care of his mother after all she has done for him.

The Legacy of Dorothy Vaughan.

The Legacy of Dorothy Vaughan.
The Hidden Figure who Helped Put a man on the Moon.

Road Trip Across America.

Road Trip Across America.
A discovery of what unites us.

Bigger than Life.

Bigger than Life.
How Premier League superstar Sadio Mané is changing the world beyond soccer.

Born to Make a Difference.

Born to Make a Difference.
Kids who are changing their world.

Our Local Heroes in Scrubs.

Our Local Heroes in Scrubs.
How health care workers saved the day.

It’s Not Your Lifespan, it’s Your Wingspan.

It’s Not Your Lifespan, it’s Your Wingspan.
How one girl’s 16 years of life impacts thousands.

No Strings Attached.

No Strings Attached.
How a 7-year-old girl brings joy to neighbors with her violin.

Turning Tough News Into Hope.

Turning Tough News Into Hope.
How 11-year-old Jordan Phillips raised $120,000 to help fund cancer treatment.

Using the Write Words

Using the Write Words
How an African American Woman Wrote her Way to Freedom.

You’re Never Too Old to Make a Difference.

You’re Never Too Old to Make a Difference.
British WWll veteran Captain Tom Moore raised over $45 million for charity at age 100.

Cross Safely.

Cross Safely.
How one man made sure his retirement years were spent helping kids move safely through life.

Something Healthy for All of Us

Something Healthy for All of Us
How 17-year-old Barron Prize Winners Annie and Shirley Zhu provide fresh food for 1,400 people a year.

Living Alone doesn’t Mean you Have to be Lonely.

Living Alone doesn’t Mean you Have to be Lonely.
How a community in Maine supports those who want to be left alone.

The Curse of Texting and Driving.

The Curse of Texting and Driving.
How one father turned personal tragedy into triumph for thousands of teenagers by creating the Honor Connor Scholarship Fund.

Taking Care.

Taking Care.
How one woman turned a life of neglect into a lifetime of taking care of people.

Listening to the Music Inside.

Listening to the Music Inside.
The long journey of Maria Tallchief from the Osage Nation in Oklahoma to prima ballerina in New York City.

Finding Our Way.

Finding Our Way.
Using the natural elements around her, Kala Baybayan Tanaka navigates the ocean in a canoe for up to three weeks using nothing but observations of the natural elements around her.

For the Cost of a Box of Cereal.

For the Cost of a Box of Cereal.
How just noticing makes all the difference in the world.

When the World Says You Can’t, Listen to the Inner Voice that Says You Can.

When the World Says You Can’t, Listen to the Inner Voice that Says You Can.
The legacy of Susan La Flesche, the first Native American to earn a medical degree.

A Most Unlikely Friendship.

A Most Unlikely Friendship.
How the war in Ukraine brought two families together from opposite sides.

Beatrice Shilling

Beatrice Shilling
The motorcycle daredevil who became a mechanical engineer and saved the lives of countless pilots in WWll.

An Impossible Journey.

An Impossible Journey.
How John Wesley Powell navigated the Colorado River and Grand Canyon in wooden boats.

Going the Distance.

Going the Distance.
Why top collegiate and professional athlete Dillon Shije will never stop running for his people.

Billy Mills

Billy Mills
The story behind America’s first and only 10,000-meter Olympic champion.

Let the Music Move You.

Let the Music Move You.
Bob Geldof has spent a lifetime seeking harmony in the world.

Are You Smarter Than a Seventh-Grade Business Owner?

Are You Smarter Than a Seventh-Grade Business Owner?
How Kidpreneur Alejandro Buxton is making money for college and helping others.

Photographs that Changed the World.

Photographs that Changed the World.
How the searing photographs of Walker Evans’ America during the Depression created a national change in attitude toward the poor.

Stay Curious.

Stay Curious.
The remarkable underwater life of Jacques Cousteau.

A Diamond in the Making.

A Diamond in the Making.
How an everyday superhero saved the day by taking time to go through the garbage to find a stranger’s wedding ring.

Give Peace a Chance.

Give Peace a Chance.
How a Mexican-American Marine negotiated peace speaking Japanese during WWll.

Taking Care of the Most Vulnerable.

Taking Care of the Most Vulnerable.
Pam Tully dedicates 6 months a year to rescuing baby flying foxes alongside the volunteers who help her.

Courage in a New World.

Courage in a New World.
The story of Stagecoach Mary, the first Black woman to deliver mail in the Wild West.

Fix it Yourself.

Fix it Yourself.
How one couple moved hundreds of miles from home to run a center for pregnant teenage girls.

The Last Person you Think of Should Probably be the First.

The Last Person you Think of Should Probably be the First.
How a group of high school boys practiced the art of inclusion.

Ramping Up to Help those in Need.

Ramping Up to Help those in Need.
How a community came together in a time of tragedy.

Being a Mother…

Being a Mother…
The roundabout journey to a dream fulfilled.

Everybody Can Be a Hero.

Everybody Can Be a Hero.
How window cleaners brightened the day at a children’s hospital.

Let the Kids Give it a Try

Let the Kids Give it a Try
How 17-year-old Dasia Taylor developed sutures that detect infection.

Reach for the Stars…

Reach for the Stars…
No Matter How Long it Takes.

The Little Things that Make the Biggest Difference.

The Little Things that Make the Biggest Difference.
How one man created a forest the size of Central Park by planting one tree a day.

Going Deep to Deliver Kindness.

Going Deep to Deliver Kindness.
Free-dive record holder Enzo Maiorca rescues a trapped dolphin, then watches as it gives birth.

Taking Responsibility.

Taking Responsibility.
How one high school student supported her family during the pandemic.