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

Poipu Crater Double Rainbow

Rainbow Experience of the Third Kind

I had quite the rainbow experience one late afternoon.

It seems to me that rainbows are learning how to interact with people. Or perhaps, we are learning how to connect with rainbows.

I don’t know if you have ever thought about having unusual rainbow experiences. If not, perhaps what happened to me may prepare you for unusual rainbow experiences.

Kauai, the Island of Rainbows

Kauai is the northern most island in the Hawaiian island chain. The island seems to have many facets that make for wonderful reflective types of possibilities. Maybe rainbows are particularly attracted to multi-faceted environments, such as Kauai, the Garden Island. I now believe “close encounter of a rainbow kind” type of experiences may soon be recognized as a special class of phenomena.

Poipu Crater Double Rainbow

First Sight

Getting on with my story…I was sitting in front of my computer working away on a task that was a bit boring and repetitious. Music was playing in the background providing a soothing sound to help me focus. The repeated action from working on the task at hand and the melody of the music placed me in a sort of trance-like state.

As I was typing away I suddenly heard someone speak to me. Yet there was no one in the room. But the voice continued. Then suddenly I realized I was having a telepathic experience and the messages I was receiving was quite persistent. The voice urgently said, “Get up. Get your camera and go!” Whew, it was so loud.

I was jolted out of my chair because I felt so deeply I needed to follow the voice that carried this direct command so strongly into my thoughts. As I stood up I thought to myself, “What a loud and clear communication.” I happily and eagerly paid attention.

Double Rainbow Spectrum

Immediately I stopped what I was doing and jumped up and grabbed my old camera out of its bag. The two of us headed out the door to Mustang Sally, our pink Mustang convertible. As I slide behind the big steering wheel I knew I needed to head toward the Hyatt Hotel, so I did. It took about 3 minutes of driving from the time I jumped into Mustang Sally until I received a stunning visual scene. Synchronistically I had this strange sensation that I was about to have a one of those close encounters that I had heard about but never really experienced.

I suddenly got all tingly, and as I looked over at the base of a small caldera we know as Poipu crater, I saw not only a single, but a double decker, awesome, vibrating, radiating spectrum.

“Yummy!” I said out loud, and a full range of sensations flowed wildly inside of me.

Out came the camera, and snap, crackle, pop! I stopped the car, jumped out, and I was flashing away. The air was so erie and the sky had a very strange golden glow. I thought for sure I was about to receive a very mind altering experience.

The Race with the Rainbow Began

Then, all of a sudden the rainbow began to move. It started heading for the old sugar mill in Koloa. This started the race. I wanted to see if I could get to the mill before the rainbow did. I again jumped into Mustang Sally and peeled out onto the smoothly paved highway. I was driving faster and faster. I could hear the flapping of the comfortable top on the car, which was yielding to the swirling whirling trade winds known to flow through this area.

Then it happened … and all of a sudden, the rainbow and I seemed to merge. The car filled with bouncing light moving every which way. “Whoa!” I thought, “Who is going to believe this?”

Rainbow Light Pattern

Bathed in Rainbow Light

It was like being sucked into a third kind of experience that I imagined only leprechauns knew about…unexplainable really. The car’s side view mirror was reflecting my close encounter, so I knew it was real. I had no fear as one might have in a close encounter of the third kind. I was smiling from ear to ear!

What I found to be so very exciting about this rainbow encounter was I had arrived to the Koloa sugar mill at the exact moment the rainbow did, too. It was like we were one. When I stepped out of the car, the rainbow eagerly moved to its place just above the top of the sugar mill. It just knew it was waiting for me to take a perfect photograph as this living rainbow expanded it’s colors making sure to present a perfect image.

That day brought me so many gifts, and I learned that a picture  is truly worth a thousand words, or more!

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”