To Honor The Son She Lost, A Mom Built A Playground And Started A Movement In Accessibility For All!

Every kid deserves a place to play and have fun. Amy Barzach is one of the people who is fully dedicated to making that dream a reality.


In the early 90s, Amy's son Jonathan was born with spinal muscular atrophy (which is similar to Lou Gherig's Disease). One day while at the park with 9-month-old Jonathan, Amy noticed a young girl in a wheelchair, who was unable to play on the jungle gyms and other park features. This inspired Amy to action—she decided that kids living with disabilities like her son should have access to parks designed for their unique needs. Two weeks later, Jonathan passed away.

"My family used to say that in Jonathan's dreams, playgrounds would be places where everyone can play," Amy explains.

Determined to honor her son and follow through on her idea, Amy recruited people of all abilities to help her design and create the original Jonathan's Dream playground.

Thanks to the supportive community around Amy, Jonathan's Dream opened in 1996 on the campus of the Mandell Jewish Community Center in West Hartford, CT. It quickly became a mecca for children of all abilities, thus helping to usher in a new inclusive movement in playgrounds. The success of Jonathan's Dream led Amy to establish Boundless Playgrounds, a nonprofit for which she served as the Executive Director. Since its inception in 1997, Boundless Playgrounds has built over 200 accessible parks in the U.S. and Canada.

The original wooden playground came down in the spring of 2013 due to typical wear and tear, and Amy immediately knew that she wanted to rebuild a new and improved version for a new generation of kids. After extensive fundraising and with massive community support, Jonathan's Dream, reopened in October 2017 with a new motto: "A Place to Celebrate Life." Now, more than 20 years after its original unveiling, Jonathan's Dream has been reborn!

Kids and adults of all abilities helped build Jonathan's Dream Reimagined. In the process, they also helped preserve Jonathan's memory, while promoting equality and acceptance with a public place designed to be accessible to all.

"It's the first time that we've actually come back to a playground," says one mom in our video above, as she watches her son enjoy this very special park.

This HooplaHa original video was produced by Lucia Nazzaro, shot by Heather Holloway, edited by Matt Binetti, and additional footage courtesy of Nild Sansone of Lasting Image New Media. For more inspiring videos, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Only Good News Newsletter.

Nourishing the Body and Spirit of a Paralyzed Mom (A Little Joy & Judy E2)

Victoria Gouletas sensibly waited until after a Nor'easter had passed through their Connecticut town before venturing out to check for damage to her family's home. What she could not have expected was that a tree limb, weakened by the storm, would suddenly fall on her, forever altering the course of life for her and her family.

Keep reading... Show less

Untold Stories Of The Greatest Flash Mob Proposal Ever!

It was just one of thousands of new videos that are posted every day... but this one was different. Quickly, the story shifted into high gear and exploded as most viral videos do. It swept across the globe - 50,000… 300,000 … 1,000,000+ views - and overnight, Adam and Jared were social media stars.

Keep reading... Show less

Aydian and Jenilee Prepare for Transgender Parenthood (The Creation Of Us - E3)

A new baby is on the way and Trans Activist and motivational Speaker Aydian Dowling, and his wife, Jenilee, are clearly focused on planning for the future. This involves the need to think through how all the new things and new experiences they are going through will fit into their already crazy lifestyle.
Keep reading... Show less

Ashlee Muhammad is Harlem’s Rising “Eye-Conic” Fashion Designer

Ashlee Muhammad was born blind in one eye. She spent much of her youth being bullied for being "different" and yearned to fit in... until she finally realized she was born to stand out.

Keep reading... Show less

Caly’s Single “Head Held High” is Released! (Caly on the Good - E3)

At 15, Caly Bevier put her life on hold to battle ovarian cancer. Now, at 18, with her music propelling her forward, Caly is ready to release her new single, "Head Held High", and leave cancer in her dust.

Keep reading... Show less

Beauty Redefined Episode 2

Sonya del Gallego is a small, powerfully built, cheerful woman who doesn't exactly fit the profile of what one imagines when they think of a sumo wrestler. Not surprisingly, she is defiant in challenging gender stereotypes, and is an advocate for being yourself, regardless of whether it fits society's standards of "normal".

Keep reading... Show less

Church Youth Groups Repair Homes and Spread Hope - Wallingford Work Camp

There's a bunch of teenagers swarming round a residential home, coming and going in a flurry and making a racket. Out of control party? Vandalism? Actually, these kids are volunteers, providing home repairs for elderly, disabled or low income residents in a small town, and trying to bring hope to their lives while making some lasting connections.

Keep reading... Show less

Buffalo Puppies Adoption Day! (A Dog's Journey Home - E3)

It's a given that adopting a dog from a shelter is a roll of the dice. There is typically little information about what that animal has been through and for how long, and the best you can do when you visit is take in what you see, hear, and feel and make your decision.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive New Videos
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood.tv

mailbox

Get your Only Good Newsletter