Thought I would pop on here to chat about a facebook feed that my husband showed me today.
A facebook friend of his shared a post about an amusement park that was designed specifically to serve people with disabilities. It is also open to the public.
I’ve chatted with friends before about this place. The story behind it is heartwarming. If I remember correctly, it was built by the father of a young woman with a disability because he wanted a place where she would be welcome and could have fun free of odd looks and access barriers.
I can relate. If you have a disability or are with someone who does, there is often a level of stress or distress when one is out in public. People stare. Places are inaccessible. Often people say rude or ridiculous things. So having a space where one is free from that is, well, wonderful!
We experienced this years ago when we stayed at Give Kids the World, a resort built specifically to assist medically fragile kids in accessing the Disney Theme park resorts. It was amazing and having a travel experience be easy and successful when so many things were hard paved the way to much bigger dreams about travel. You can check out the kind of travel we do now by going to theadventuresofwill.ca forward slash morocco. That’s theadventuresofwill.ca/morocco.
So while I acknowledge that Give Kids the World was great because it made me more confident in overcoming challenges while travelling,
Our son has always wanted to live in the real world. He wants to be able to make friends and have fun in all the same places people without disabilities go. Yes, people stare at him sometimes. And yes, places are often not very accessible. And yes, this takes a toll.
But we do not choose to escape our reality because to do so is to escape our community. And more to the point, we do not wish for someone, no matter how good their intentions, to ghettoize our lives via segregated services.
I mean, Imagine if this park had been built for any other demographic group.
Consider The amusement park for women where they can dress however they want and walk around alone after dark without risk of being sexually harassed or assaulted.
The amusement park for young black men where they can gather with their friends and live it up without fear of being shot by police.
Women and young black men deserve a place where they feel safe and welcomed and, as one commenter on facebook said, “free to be.”
But obviously, most people would not think that this is the right answer to the problem of discrimination and harassment.
It isn’t the answer for people with disabilities either.
Imagine what could have been accomplished with the amount of money that was spend to build that amusement park.
It could have been spent on a marketing and political campaign to encourage the most popular amusement and theme parks to become accessible. Disney, by the way, has already made great head way in this department.
It could have been used to sponsor people with disabilities with whatever individual accommodations they required in order to access existing parks.
It could have been used to teach anti-discrimination programs in schools.
The possibilities are endless.
But instead, we now have a single amusement park that is built for people with disabilities. And I’m sure that the people who go there will enjoy themselves for the day.
And the world hasn’t changed a bit. Except that thousands of people have shared the message on facebook that the solution to discrimination and accessibility barriers in our community is to send people with disabilities to their own special park where people are trained to be nice to them.
And maybe least importantly but still relevant… How great is that park? As great as Disney? As great as Canada’s wonderland? Or Six Flags? Or Busch Gardens? I don’t think so…
People with disabilities shouldn’t settle for some half-assed replica.
Not a win in my mind. I’ll go to Disney. My son has a thing for Moana these days anyway.
I know who my son is. And what he wants. And what is possible. And what he deserves.
Head on over to goodthingsinlife.org/moana for a little inspiration for where we should be setting our sights!
“…you remind me, that come what may, I know the way!” ~Moana.