By Cheryl Harrison, Army Community Service MarketingAugust 13, 2010
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The Department of Defense's Exceptional Family Member Program held a first-of-its-kind Joint Military Resource Fair Aug. 6 with more than 300 military Family members in attendance at the newly opened Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio.
The focus of the fair was to put Families with special needs members in touch with various resources that specifically support individuals with disabilities.
Special needs children often need extra or specialized care, compounding the daily stresses of Family life in the military. There are many support groups available to these Families, but they are not always easily accessible.
Booths lined the gymnasium at Morgan's Wonderland offering information on child care placement, tuition assistance, counseling, respite care and special classes for Families with special needs individuals.
Morgan's Wonderland, a park designed specifically for children and adults with special needs, proved to be the perfect location for the fair. Families connected with support; parents and children had a great time.
Morgan's Wonderland has many specially-equipped rides to accommodate children with special needs, including those in wheelchairs.
The Off-Road Adventure Ride was very popular. The ride's ultra-accessible vehicles are the first of their kind in the world, enabling individuals in wheelchairs and their companions to enjoy the experience comfortably.
Dylan Costales age 10 concurred, "The best part was driving!"
According to Melissa Reyes, Fort Sam Houston's EFMP program manager, "This was a fun informative event that provided Families an outlet to meet others who experience the same challenges on a day-to-day basis."
Families from Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases joined with Families from Fort Sam Houston to enjoy the event.
"It was a great opportunity for Families to come together from the different military branches and have a stress-free day and just have fun," said Angela Swain, Fort Sam Houston EFMP specialist.
Ivan Tull, a Morgan's Wonderland volunteer, summed up his feelings about the park and the day's event, "The biggest grins you've ever seen are the ones on the faces of the kids who visit this park."
For more information on the resources available to Families who have individuals with special needs, DoD's Exceptional Family Member Program can be reached at (210) 221-0285.