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.

Smart Yoga Mat Promotes Growth And Learning For Kids With Special Needs

** OGTV shares this story for National Disability Week to show that with a little imagination and hard work, doors can be opened for those with special needs. **

Elizabeth Goranson is the owner and founder of Stretch What Matters, an organization which instructs yoga to children with special needs. She practiced yoga on her own, but never thought to bring it into her classroom. Her daughter Grace, who was born with special needs, gave her the idea to start Stretch What Matters.

Keep reading... Show less

Art Classes Offer "Transformative" Experience To People Living With Mental Illness

** We share this story on National Special Education Day to inspire those who seek ways to heal the wounds that can't be seen. **

PeaceLove Studios is "in the peace-of-mind business," according to co-founder Jeff Sparr. A nice, simple mission statement, to be sure. But there's nothing simple about the problems that PeaceLove is trying to solve, and that's what makes the organization so important and powerful.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurt Dog Inspires Hollywood Film ‘Miracle Marshall’

Marshall was abandoned, abused and starving. He was among 60 other dogs living on a property without food, water and shelter.

During the time of his rescue by Animal Planet's Confessions, he had a badly broken front leg, bite marks all over his body and a tennis ball sized hole in the side of his face. The Humane Society of Missouri came to the dogs rescue, however Marshall's injuries were so serious they required surgery before he could be put up for adoption. On the operating table, Marshall passed away...but was resuscitated and the medical team was able to repair his face and amputate his infected leg.

Today, Marshall lives in his forever home with owner Cyndi Willenbrock. "He has been my greatest teacher, and my greatest blessing," Cyndi noted.

Keep reading... Show less
Series - Beauty Redefined

Dudeoir and Drag Queens On Ice! An Event for Fun and Charity (Beauty Redefined E3)

** On World Aids Day, we share this story about an Aids fundraising event that celebrates people being comfortable in their own skin. **

Drag Queens on Ice is celebrating their 8th Annual event, fundraising for local Sacramento, California charities, and showing how dressing in drag draws off of what beauty is and allows each individual to create their own persona, their own version of being beautiful.

Keep reading... Show less

How This Mom Turns Tragedy Into A Lifesaving Mission

** On our National Day Of Giving, here's a story about a woman's loss and how she turned it into an opportunity to help others. **

November 9th, 2002 changed Heidi Johnson's life forever. After a tragic accident that killed her mother and left her father hospitalized for weeks, Heidi realized she had a greater calling. "You don't just wake up one day and start a non-profit. Something happens... there's a moment. I became intrigued by that moment and who these people were."

Keep reading... Show less

Why Shopping Makes You Feel Good - You Should Know with Lucia Nazzaro

** Here's a short video on why shopping makes you happy to get you amped for Cyber Monday **

This just in! Retail therapy actually works! We love to give you tips and tricks to make sure you are the happiest & healthiest you can be. So here is one more, and it just may be our favorite.

In this brand new episode of You Should Know, Lucia explains how shopping really can improve your well being. Even if you don't buy anything, the positive effects are still there. So tell your spouse you don't necessarily have to spend money... even though it's more fun that way :)

Keep reading... Show less

Caring Couture Makes Scarves By Employing Adults With Down Syndrome

** To highlight "Small Business Friday" here is a story about a small organization that opens its doors to people of all abilities. **

This is the ultimate story of a mothers love for her child. Boynton Beach, FL mom, Laurie Ruehlman wanted to spend more quality time with her daughter, Payton, who has Down Syndrome.

"I felt Payton was given to me for a reason," her Mom explained. "It was something bigger than just being her Mom."

Keep reading... Show less

Cops Stop And Shop With Kids In Need

Back to school has a whole new meaning in Yarmouth, MA. One of the Yarmouth Police Department's back to school programs, Shop With A Cop, pairs up an officer with a child to prepare students for their school year.

"I think the most important part of the program is showing the kids that we're not always coming in to arrest somebody," noted Officer Brain Morrison. "We're here to help them and be friends with them."

Keep reading... Show less

* PODCASTS *

* OGTV Top Videos *

Watch and Subscribe
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood TV on YouTube

mailbox

Get your Only Good TV Newsletter