Updated: Mar 2
Communication is a wonder. Words are important, as we all know, and the lack of proper use can lead to a wealth of learning opportunities. Which I experienced first hand. Over the past few weeks I found myself conversing, with several individuals, over one topic regarding Spirit of Discovery Park; our frequently asked questions, AKA, FAQ's.
I found myself discussing and reiterating the same conversation verbally and electronically with no resolution. Frustrated in the monotony of the topic and unproductive result, I took a deep breath, shot off an "arrow prayer" to God (an hourly occurrence most days), and moments later I had a LIGHTBULB moment. You know that moment when all the stars align and EVERYTHING in the Universe seems to make sense. THAT WAS MY MOMENT.
A brief step back in history. When I was in school, I majored in Communications. Within that area of study, there were several "arms" if you will, that were taught. Nonverbal communication, public speaking, and media were the top 3. As part of my course studies, I was offered an opportunity to host an on-air, college campus, talk show. In preparing for the weekly shows, as part of common media practices, I was advised to reach out to every guest in order and prepare with them their FAQ's. Same practices are used by radio personalities prior to an interview. These FAQ's were a list questions the GUEST would provide to the HOST allowing for a smooth, non-confrontational and informative interaction. It made the GUEST feel prepared and confident all while the HOST seemed spontaneous. And it is still a common, flawless practice today!
I have to ask, has my lightbulb moment made itself clear yet? If not, allow me to explain. When discussing FAQ's about SoDP with the team, my head went where my knowledge and understanding of FAQ's was: the list of most often asked questions. In reality, what was being asked was actually the list AND the answers! Like with most websites, especially those providing and experience or type of entertainment, their list of most commonly asked questions AND the answers, for additional education and awareness, for their prospective consumer or guest. So, here I am, feeling grateful that I had an epiphany that will help engage our team and guests yet guilt-ridden and apologetic for not asking the right questions to help clarify. LEARNING LESSONS are powerful, just like the words we use!
Since out of everything bad comes something good, I am pleased to share the list of FAQ's and ANSWERS!
Spirit of Discovery Park's TOP 10 FAQ's
What is Spirit of Discovery Park? Spirit of Discovery Park (SoDP) is a St. Louis, Missouri-based, nonprofit that is committed to building the 2nd, fully accessible amusement park, in the world, for EVERY body, especially those with physical or mental disabilities, special needs and our transitioning Veterans. SoDP will be a model of diversity, equality, and inclusion, as it brings together an extremely marginalized population of diseased and disabled to partner with the healthy and able-bodied for fun and adventure together.
What was the inspiration behind it? Jamie Peniston Vann is the CEO and Founder of St. Louis Recreation Development Group, Inc., doing business as, Spirit of Discovery Park. Her passion for this project was sparked by a conversation, in March 2011. Jamie's friend with 3 children, one with Downs syndrome, expressed that her family wouldn't be visiting Disney World, "the happiest, most magical place on earth," and was interested in Morgan's Wonderland, the ONLY ultra-accessible amusement park. This conversation ignited her core belief; to bring great value and create equality, fairness and inclusion to others. Five years later, in February 2016, Jamie's same friend shared her family's memories created at the amusement park in San Antonio. Right then, Jamie saw the need for families with disabled individuals to have the same experiences of fun, discovery, and community involvement as those which are available to able-bodied individuals so she made one phone call and the rest is history. Through Spirit of Discovery Park was brought about by a calling to give the gift of "ordinary" to the extra-ordinary by providing memories through an experience of joy, laughter and for people with all abilities.
Where will it be located? The team at SoDP is diligently working to find our FOREVER HOME. We are in need of 50+ acres of flat, clean land, out of flood areas and within 10 minutes from a major hospital. We continue our search within the St. Louis Metro area and we are currently investigating 2 pieces of property.
How much money has been raised? To date, SoDP has raised over $215K.
How far along are you? SoDP's has determined there will be three phases, fundraising being a constant. Currently, we are in the Fundraising/Planning phase.
How much will it cost to build? Our original estimate of $35 Million was based on our first conceptual concept, 5 years ago. Our guestimate based on our new campus concept including inflation due to the current pandemic is upwards of $50 Million, NOT INCLUDING LAND.
When will construction begin? Construction can begin as soon as land and some initial funding has been secured.
When can I visit? Per our consultant from Wonderland Development Group, once the land and initial funding has been secured, SoDP is estimated to take 18 months to build.
How much will it cost to get in? Admission for guests with a special need are FREE and each accompanying ticket will be a nominal fee. Weekend and Season Passes will also be made available.
What will be a part of Spirit of Discovery Park? SoDP began as mirror image of the ultra-accessible amusement park in San Antonio, adding an ice rink vs. a waterpark- due to Regional, climate differences. Through our continued growth, SoDP will be an all-inclusive, all-access adventure park designed to ensure that EVERY body can participate in some of the wonderful fun that St. Louis has to offer, an “EPCOT of 40 years ago in the center of the United States.” -Tim Blank, President & Founder, Urban Farm Design Company.
Our plan for the SoDP campus will ideally include:
-Ice Cream Parlor & Candy Store
-Playgrounds & Sand Pits
- Carousel, Train and Jeep Ride
-Greenhouse & Raised Beds
-Gluten Free Bakery & Restaurant
-Concessions & Brewery
-Adaptive Retail Store
-Sensory City & Gardens
-Activity & Event Center (Gymnasium)
-Musical & Edible Gardens
-Barn (Event Space) & Picnic Areas
-Service Dog Park
If there are additional questions that have arisen after reading our top 10 FAQ's, please share them at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer them to the best of my ability! In the meantime, I am feeling hopeful in sharing this with the SoDP team and the world! Until next time- jame : )