Badan Latihan dan Hidup Berdikari Malaysia (ILTC) pada 23hb Mac 2016 menyerahkan memorandum kepada ahli-ahli parlimen mendesak supaya golongan orang kurang upaya (OKU) dikecualikan daripada cukai barangan dan perkhidmatan (GST).

Disabled Members Protest

Disabled Members Protest
Disabled Members Protest at JPJ Wangsa Maju

ILTC Malaysia members staged a protest outside JPJ Wangsamaju KL.

ILTC Malaysia members staged a protest outside JPJ Wangsamaju KL.
Disabled group’s protest disabled drivers required to produce doc's medical report.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Theme park for the disabled

Thursday June 2, 2011

Theme park for the disabled


Morgan’s Wonderland is a fun park designed for children and adults with special needs.

THE carousel has chariots for wheelchairs. Braille games decorate side panels on the jungle gym. And table-high sandboxes allow just about any kid to build a castle.

Morgan’s Wonderland in Texas aims to offer everything a special needs guest might enjoy at a theme park, while appealing to non-disabled visitors, too.

“If it wasn’t for searching Google,” founder Gordon Hartman said, “it would’ve taken me a lot longer to put this together.”

Fun world: The ‘Taking Flight’ bronze sculpture at Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, a 10ha theme park that caters to people with physical or mental disabilities.

The result is both inventive and heartwarming: a 10ha, US$34mil (RM102mil) park catering every detail to people with physical or mental disabilities, down to jungle gyms wide enough to fit two wheelchairs side-by-side, a “Sensory Village” that’s an indoor mall of touch-and-hear activities, and daily attendance limits so the park never gets too loud or lines too long.

Since opening last year, Morgan’s Wonderland has attracted more than 100,000 guests, despite almost no national marketing by the non-profit park. Admission for people with special needs is free, and adults accompanying them pay US$10 (RM30). Three out of every four visitors do not have disabilities.

The park is the first of its kind in America, according to Hartman, a San Antonio philanthropist who named the place after his 17-year-old daughter, who can’t perform simple maths and struggles to form sentences because of cognitive disabilities. A map in the lobby entrance, where adults with special needs volunteer as greeters, offers a more visual way to gauge the park’s early popularity. The 49 US states and 16 countries which visitors have come from are marked in purple.

Persons with autism, orthopaedic impairments, mental disabilities or seizure disorders are among the most regular visitors. Tifani Jackson’s 11-year-old son, Jaylin, has Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes learning disabilities and developmental delays.

Jaylin was showing off his new hat from the gift shop, before coaxing his mum towards the off-road adventure ride, where rugged-looking jeeps that are wheelchair accessible twist and turn through a short track.

“It’s so nice to have a place like this,” said Jackson, who lives in nearby Austin.

Built on the site of an abandoned quarry, Morgan’s Wonderland is one-tenth the size of SeaWorld, the destination mega-attraction on the other side of San Antonio.

Morgan’s Wonderland is deliberately designed so that visitors do not have to go through an exhausting trudge from one overcrowded ride to the next.

Generously spread out, the park has about 20 attractions from active (Butterfly Playground) to easy-going (a train circling a 1.6km-long loop through the park and around a lake). Even more tranquil is the Sitting Garden, a quiet and almost meditative enclave that’s a favourite among parents with autistic children.

Refugio Valls rides a wheelchair swing at Morgan’s Wonderland.

Inside Sensory Village is a mechanic’s shop with tools mounted on a low table. A light touch of the drill triggers the crank-like sound of a bolt driving flush into an engine block. Next door is a pretend supermarket with plastic lobsters, ears of corn and cans of tuna, and cashiers who always hand back the right amount of invisible change.

Most interactive is a low-lit space with a touch-sensitive floor, giving the illusion of walking across a pond as the water ripples and colours burst with every step. White canvases on the walls transform into butterflies chasing a shadow anytime someone steps in front of the projector.

Sprouting from the sandboxes are “diggers” – think shovels and rakes – that can be operated sitting down from a wheelchair. Another nearby sandbox is elevated 1.4m next to a musical garden of giant xylophones and chimes. The chariots on the carousel are reserved for wheelchairs, and many of the horses are fitted with high back cushions for children who need the support.

Reservations are encouraged because of the daily attendance limits, though as general manager Dave Force put it: “We’re not going to turn away a family that’s driven all the way from Arkansas.” Each guest is also given an electronic wristband that allows families and caregivers to keep tabs on their group in the park, and scanning the wristbands on some rides e-mails a free photo back home.

Yet despite being completely designed for individuals with special needs, the park is playful enough to be enjoyed by any kid. The motto of Morgan’s Wonderland is “Where Everyone Can Play”. That inclusion was important to Hartman, who on a family trip a few years ago, saw his daughter Morgan wanting to play with three kids tossing a ball in a pool but couldn’t interact. The kids, just as unsure how to interact with Morgan, stopped playing.

Five years later, Morgan’s Wonderland opened, putting regular playground swings and swings for wheelchairs in the same park. That’s where nine-year-old Kriste was on a recent May afternoon, her wheelchair rolled onto a platform and being swung back and forth by two park volunteers.

“She doesn’t talk,” said her father, Michael Hernandez, “but you can tell she really enjoys it.” – AP

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