Author Archives: erin_legg

Swings in Playground

Place of Inclusion: One-of-a-kind Playground for Every Kid

In San Antonio, Texas a unique park has been created with the goal of uniting people young and old with the common element of play.

Inspired by a young girl with physical disabilities, Morgan’s Wonderland creates an atmosphere where people can safely enjoy time with family and friends, regardless of any physical or mental disability.

This 25 acre park caters especially towards people with special needs and provides for guests a first-class area where people can relax and have fun.

Accommodating Every Person

Swings in PlaygroundMorgan’s Wonderland is an interactive and inclusive park where people with special needs and their family and friends can interact and enjoy all aspects of play. Traditionally, parks are designed and built, then accommodations are made for people with physical or mental limitations. Morgan’s Wonderland was not created this way: all obstacles were identified first, with its design following second. The entire park is accessible, safe, and fun for people of all ages.

This recreation area leads the way in providing inclusive, family orientated activities. In 2007, the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation created Sports Outdoor and Recreation (SOAR) as a non-profit organization to raise money and provide administration for the park. Fundraising came from many sources, including the City of San Antonio, the State of Texas, family and friends, and various charities and corporations.

In just a few short years, Morgan’s Wonderland opened with the mission to “provide a safe, clean, beautiful environment free of economic barriers for special needs individuals of all ages.”

Features of Morgan’s Wonderland

Carousel RideThe park has many attractions that can be enjoyed by every person:

  • an event area and gymnasium with basketball, volley ball, and tennis access
  • an interactive sensory area that includes a theater, horse stable, fix-it shop, grocery store, and a television station
  • accessible 1930s style train
  • amphitheater
  • accessible cars that travel a track throughout the park
  • carousel
  • wharf
  • 8 acre lake with fishing access
  • accessible playgrounds and wheelchair/adaptive swings
  • water park area
  • picnic area
  • garden
  • sand pit
  • music garden
  • various pavilions and rest areas

Morgan’s Wonderland is the first “ultra-accessible family fun park” of its kind in the world. Individuals with special needs are admitted with no cost, and other guests to the park are charged a nominal entrance fee.

For more information, please click > Morgan’s Wonderland

For more information, please click > Morgan’s Wonderland

Glass Art Student

Hilltop Artists: Supporting Creativity & Expression in Young Adults

A unique and inspiring art program exists in Tacoma, Washington, helping hundreds of young people each year.

Hilltop Artists is a non-profit glass arts program founded in 1994. The program teaches students classes in glass blowing, mosaics, fused glass, and even glass beadwork.

By encouraging positive creative and artistic expression, the Hilltop Artists program has a large impact on the future of its many students.

Artistic Glass Arts Program

Glass Art StudentPeople between the ages of 12 and 20 from Pierce County can be accepted into the Hilltop Artists program. Approximately 500 students are accepted each year, and many of them find the program a good way of connecting with others and expressing themselves in a positive way.

Hilltop Artists operates with the Tacoma public school system. A few of the schools in the division offer classes taught by Hilltop Artists instructors and some even operate an after-school or summer program.

Between 24 and 30 students are accepted each year to be part of the production team. This is a program where students work part-time in the evenings on various glass blowing, jewelry and bead projects, and even commissioned pieces. The products made by the production team are available for sale in the Hilltop Artists glass gallery, with all money raised going back into the program to keep it tuition-free for participants. There are also two annual sales held each December and June.

Hilltop Artists is always accepting tax-deductible donations and volunteer applications from people who are interested in contributing to this unique art program for youth.

The Impact of the Hilltop Artists Program

No student can have his or her application to the program refused because of lack of or level of artistic talent, any physical or mental conditions, or past behavior. As noted on the organization’s website, Hilltop Artists are “using glass art to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures.”

There are many benefits of this unique program, including:

  • teaching students skills in a craft that has life-long potential as a hobby or career
  • helping with teaching students how to set goals, follow through on projects, and develop learning patience with themselves and others
  • giving students experience with working independently and as a team member
  • empowering students with the ability to design and create pieces of art
  • helping students with developing interpersonal skills through working with instructors and meeting new friends

Award-Winning Video

In 2012 a video produced featuring Hilltop Artists won a Telly Award. The Telly Awards were created in 1978 as a visual arts award celebrating and supporting creative community. Awards are granted for local, regional, and cable television programs, video and film productions, and online content production.

Watch the Inspiring Hilltop Artist’s Video

Paint Brushes in Art Mug

Art Therapy Beneficial for Mind, Body & Spiritual Wellbeing

Art therapy is a healing practice used to increase the overall health of one’s body, mind, and spirit. It’s a therapy that can easily be successful for people of all ages and for people suffering from many different challenges, such as illness or trauma.

The American Art Therapy Association was established to help promote the healing aspects of art and how it can improve the overall quality of one’s life.

Art therapy is often used when working with the aging population, as it is effective with increasing people’s self-perception, memory, and coordination.

Wellness with Art Therapy

Paint Brushes in Art MugResearch has shown that the creative process has many benefits, including:

  • helping with managing stress levels;
  • developing conflict resolution skills;
  • balancing emotions; and
  • improving cognitive clarity.

Useful for everybody of all ages, art therapy helps with personal development because the creating and reflecting aspects of art increases self-awareness.

Accepting Aging Through Creative Expression

As we age, there are many things that change in life that sometimes we may not be willing to accept or have a hard time coming to terms with: we lose people, we lose our health, we lose our home, and we lose our mobility. Depression is common among elderly people, in addition to confusion and low self-esteem.

Art helps people come to terms with various aspects of aging and can help people reclaim their identity. Because art is full of choices people have the freedom to make, it helps ease the feeling of dependency that aging people may feel. Growing older is often viewed as merely a day-to-day survival issue, whereas creative expression lays emphasis on the person’s experiences, memories, and relationships.

American Art Therapy Association

With over 5,000 members globally within 36 chapters, the American Art Therapy Association strives to promote the effectiveness of art therapy for every type of person of every age. The Association supports legislation involving art therapy at both the state and federal levels of government and supports different research projects, educational programs, and clinical uses of art therapy.

The following video was produced with help from the American Art Therapy Association with the goal of showing people how effective this creative therapy is for the elderly population. It is an example of rediscovering one’s joy and happiness through expression.

As art therapist Wendy Miller notes, “[Art is] not a luxury; it’s really a necessity.”

Gypsy Soul's Superstition Highway

Superstition Highway by Gypsy Soul Spiritual Music

The voice of Cilette Swann and the musical abilities of Roman Morykit come together beautifully to form the inspirational folk duo, Gypsy Soul.

Without wavering from their passion or messages of inspiration offered in their various albums, the music of Gypsy Soul can soothe listeners’ anxieties, realign focus to what’s really important, and provide enlightenment in times needed.

Gypsy Soul gives listeners a spiritual musical treat on Superstition Highway (Off The Beaten Track Recordings), an album with universal appeal.

Superstition Highway

Gypsy Soul's Superstition HighwayWith eleven tracks, Superstition Highway offers songs that are slow and thoughtful, folky and rhythmic, and even jazz-inspired. “Only Knew You” is a sultry song questioning respect and wrong-doing within a relationship. In “Who” Swann’s voice enchants listeners easily as the lyrics recite the big questions most people ponder in life. “Time of Innocence” is a catchy song in which Morykit’s musical talent shines.

Title song “Superstition Highway” and album closer “Eventide” are the two powerful instrumental songs on the album. Gypsy Soul Duo also includes two cover songs suiting with the album’s overall tone: “Scarborough Fair” and “Nights in White Satin.”

Musical Duo Gypsy Soul

Swann and Morykit have been writing, recording, and performing music together for over twenty years. The two met overseas during a time when each musician’s career was in need of rejuvenation and discovered a harmony in their songwriting skills. Relocating to Los Angeles, Gypsy Duo has always maintained a dedication to their music and to their fans.

In addition to forming the record label Off The Beaten Track Recordings, Gypsy Duo has released ten albums. Fans of the group have always been appreciative of their dreams, and as such financial donations, equipment donations, and support at performances have helped Gypsy Soul sell over 1.5 million downloads, earn independent music awards, and spots on top music charts.

Gypsy SoulGypsy Soul’s passion for music, arts, and charity is demonstrated through their annual fundraising productions for organizations across the country, including food banks, addiction centers, and health clinics.

The success of the duo and their appreciation for everyone who has helped them along the way is a sign of continued dreaming and passion for sharing inspiration through music.

To listen to song samples, please click > Superstition Highway by Gypsy Soul

Listen to Gypsy Soul Perform “Who”

Gypsy Soul's Wanderlust

Gypsy Soul’s Wanderlust CD: Inspirational Music & Messages

Music duo Gypsy Soul—Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit—has released several folk-style, insightful albums since forming in the early 1990s.

Wanderlust (Off The Beaten Track Recordings) was released by Gypsy Soul with tremendous support from their dedicated fan base.

This inspirational, eleven-track album highlights Swann’s captivating voice and Morykit’s musical abilities

About Gypsy Soul

Swann and Morykit met in Scotland after both had been trying individually to pursue a music career: Swann as a french jazz singer in Paris and Morykit a musician who’s recording contract was recently terminated. Gypsy Soul was created upon the discovery of their musical companionship.

Gypsy SoulWith ten albums and one live performance DVD released since then, Gypsy Soul is an American-based duo that’s always had the continued support of fans. Their first album, Test of Time, was released with great financial assistance from family and friends. Swann and Morykit as such believe in the “paying it forward” philosophy, and consistently support charities, fundraisers, and workshops held around the country.

The couple formed their own record label, Off The Beaten Track Recordings. Gypsy Soul’s music has been featured on television shows and movies from around the world, and the band has been recognized with many independent music awards. The duo’s music has earned spots in the Top 40 Radio Charts and the International New Age Charts.

Fan-backed Album

Wanderlust is a beautifully inspiring album featuring a mix of instrumental tracks—”Prelude,” “Epona’s Wild Daughter,” and “Wanderlust”—and the soothing comfort of Swann’s voice. Following with the dedicated support Gypsy Soul has consistently received from family, friends, and fans, over $27,000 towards the production of this album was from their audience. The lyrics of the album are almost like words of wisdom or support dedicated in return to the fans.

Gypsy Soul's WanderlustFor example, “You’re Beautiful to Me” highlights Swann’s captivating singing skills and tells a story of heartfelt love. “We Lose Ourselves in Life” is a comforting reminder for listeners to remember to find beauty in the present and not get caught up in what’s supposedly “wrong” with life. Another inspirational track on Wanderlust is “Show Me the Way,” one by which listeners will close their eyes and listen in relaxation.

Gypsy Soul’s Wanderlust album is inspirational music that helps listeners find solace and peace within its lyrics and notes. This is an album easily appreciated by listeners of all music genres.

To hear song samples, please click > Wanderlust by Gypsy Soul

Gypsy Soul Performs “Be The Change”