THUMBS UP to Morgan’s Inspiration Island, which opened July 17 in San Antonio, becoming the first-ever fully accessible water park. The venue features attractions like river boat rides, water canons, splash pads and rain curtains. There are waterproof wheelchairs available for guests to rent at no charge, and individuals with a disability have free admission. The park’s designer, Gordon Hartman, was inspired by his daughter, Morgan, who has cognitive and physical challenges. But Hartman assures this is not a special-needs park, stating it’s a “park of inclusion” that inspires a whole lot of fun.
THUMBS UP to TransLink for testing new technology that will make it easier for people who are unable to tap in and out of fare gates to use Vancouver’s SkyTrain transit system. The regional transportation authority has decided to install Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in existing accessible fare gates. Those who are eligible will receive a fob access device that will remotely open a gate within a certain distance. If all goes well, it is anticipated that all SkyTrain stations will be outfitted with RFID capability by the second quarter of next year.
THUMBS DOWN to unprofessional police conduct. A Toronto family is demanding a public apology after two police officers were caught on dash cam footage mocking a woman with Down syndrome during a traffic stop. Consts. Sassa Sljivo and Matthew Saris were heard joking and making belittling comments about Francie Munoz, who was a passenger (and daughter) of the driver they pulled over. A Toronto police spokesperson confirmed there is an ongoing internal investigation, adding “discipline for police officers could range from a reprimand to dismissal.”
THUMBS UP to the Ruderman Family Foundation for calling out the production of Blind in casting an able-bodied actor, Alec Baldwin, for the movie’s blind lead character. Baldwin plays a novelist who loses his sight in a car accident.
THUMBS UP to the Ontario government’s decision to change its child support law to give adult children with disabilities access to child-support payments. The decision to amend Ontario’s Family Law Act comes after a Brampton single mother, Robyn Coates, won her case involving the care of her 22-year-old son, Joshua, who lives with DiGeorge syndrome.
THUMBS DOWN to exorbitant “encroachment” fees for makeshift ramp access. Tony Bascelli, a property owner in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, was asked by his pharmacy tenant to build a temporary wheelchair ramp after a nearby construction project created an obstruction to the store’s usual accessible entry. Believing time was of the essence, Bascelli built a wooden ramp without obtaining a temporary permit from the city, deciding he’d “just deal with whatever came after.” The result was a hefty $2,500 fee for a temporary encroachment permit.
THUMBS DOWN to Amazon for selling a hoodie making light of eating disorders. ‘Anorexia,’ says the slogan across the front, ‘like bulimia, except with self control.’ Eating disorders of any description are serious and no laughing matter. Health experts think the hoodie’s message could do serious damage by promoting anorexia. Many Amazon customers have taken to Twitter to express their outrage. As of press time, it remains available for purchase.
THUMBS UP to the Canadian Football League celebrating inclusion. Following the violent events that transpired in Charlottesville, Virginia, the league decided to expedite the release of its new line of T-shirts, designed with inclusive messaging. The shirts feature “Diversity is Strength” on the front and “A league of what we’re made of” on the back – including the surnames of esteemed CFL alumni, from Andrusyshyns to Zizakovichs. Now available (in English and French) at cflshop.ca.
THUMBS UP to Target’s new sensory-friendly kids clothing line, Cat & Jack, designed by Stacey Monsen. Having a seven-year-old daughter with autism, Monsen knows firsthand the challenges of shopping for a child with sensory-processing issues. The adaptive apparel brand features trendy clothes without tags, metallic zippers and sensory-sensitive fabric.