On July 19th, I drove the UIWRSO van full of volunteers to Morgan’s Wonderland, an amusement park for mentally and physically handicapped people. I was glad to see the number of happy volunteers willing to wake up so early on a Saturday morning to help screen the special needs population in and around San Antonio. I thought back to the time when our pediatric professor, Dr. Garcia, educated the class about the extra care special needs patients may require, and I knew that this is going to be an experience that I will not forget. The van pulled up to the front gate of Morgan’s Wonderland located on 5223 David Edwards Dr, San Antonio, TX 78233. We were greeted by the Morgan’s Wonderland managers and they led us to our screening site located inside their event building. The students unloaded the screening materials and efficiently set up the screening stations!
The stations were manned by a couple of students, where the students were encouraged to rotate between stations in order to gain more experience. We had stations for visual acuities, cover test for eye alignment, inspecting the internal structures of the eye, retinoscopy (estimate refractive error), eye pressures, 3D vision, and the final station that the patient would visit was an individual consultation with Dr. Garcia.
The screening was scheduled for 9am-12pm (the park opens at 9am). Since we set up early, the managers gave the students permission to explore Morgan’s Wonderland. Student interns Marianna Konradi, Denisse Lopez, and myself started off the exploration by entering the Butterfly Playground. This park playground was unlike anything that I have seen before because in addition to traditional swings there are also adaptive & wheelchair swings. The butterfly motif decorated the park benches, statues, and even the rides.
I realized that the attendees are not here for another doctor’s appointment; however I’m glad that our school made an effort to still come out because many of the people who attend the park do not necessarily get an opportunity to have their eyes checked due to more pressing health problems. This park is dedicated to Morgan Hartman. While she is recuperating on a ventilator in ICU after an extremely complicated surgery, Morgan still made sure all those around her were comforted through her unforgettable smile or an occasional thumbs up to let everyone know she was alright. It is Morgan’s fervent hope that “everyone with special needs – young and old, healthy or ailing, introspective or outgoing – will be touched in a very special way by this park.”
For more information about the park please visit their website: http://www.morganswonderland.com