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.

Husband And Wife Ministers Use Bruce Springsteen As Their Spiritual Guide

You may know a lot about your faith, but did you ever take the time to get to know your clergy leaders? Although we look to them for religious and spiritual guidance, we often overlook the human spirit that lies underneath the robes! Believe it or not, they are just like you and me! In Clergy Chronicles: The Side You Never See, a unique original series, HooplaHa unveils the human perspective on our spiritual leaders' joys in life that really make them smile.

Keep reading... Show less

Air Hollywood Helps Families and Kids With Autism Build Confidence For Traveling

Air Hollywood is the world's largest aviation-themed entertainment studio, but that's not the only feature that makes it special. Every year, for one night only, Air Hollywood opens its hangar to the public for a special event called Open Sky for Autism.

Keep reading... Show less
www.youtube.com

Rescued Guinea Pig Gets Second Chance With Love And A Wheelchair

Estella, the Guinea Pig has had a very traumatic life. 2 years ago she and her friend Pip were abandoned by her owners; injured and left on the side of the road in California. It was soon discovered that Estella was paralyzed. She was squeezed so hard by her previous owner that her back broke and since then she's been having to carry her lower body with all her upper body strength. But through it all, she's had all the support she needed from her friend, Pip and the Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary of Stockton, CA.

Keep reading... Show less

Low-Income Students Get To Plant Seeds Of Change In This New Community Garden

Started as a social experiment in Venice Beach, California, the Community Healing Gardens has grown into so much more. Co-founder Nicole Landers initially wanted to develop a framework for introducing new and long-standing residents of her neighborhood to one another, and her mind made a natural leap.

Keep reading... Show less

5 Rescue Shelters That Are Finding Dogs Love And Furever Homes

We've met a lot of amazing organizations and non-profits over the years, especially ones that do amazing things to help shelter dogs, who are close to euthanasia, find love and forever homes. Some of these organizations are small and community based, while others cover a larger regional or national footprint. No matter their size, what they do to support these dogs is nothing short of inspirational.

Keep reading... Show less

Beloved Minor League Bat Dog Dies From Cancer

The Trenton Thunder, a minor league baseball affiliate of the NY Yankees, has an unusual way of getting through the dog days of summer. If you attend their home games, you will find Golden Retrievers serving as the "bat dogs" and mascots for the minor league baseball team.

Keep reading... Show less

Catch A Lift Fund Is Transforming Wounded Veterans' Lives Through Fitness

Do you ever wonder how veterans cope with life once they come home from combat? After being trained to be on high-alert 24/7, what's it like for them to integrate back into everyday society? It raises the question: our military members protect us, but who protects them?

Keep reading... Show less
Fans' Top 5 Hits

Meet Jack, An 11-Year-Old Who Runs His Way to Trophies and Medals With Prosthetic Legs

Jack Cunningham is a normal kid. He does well in school. He loves playing sports and hanging out with friends and family. He also happens to be missing both of his legs... But he hasn't let his condition stop him from living life to the fullest.

Keep reading... Show less