NEWS | Aug. 13, 2010

JBSA exceptional families program hosts a day at Morgan’s Wonderland

By Kelly Parsons 502nd ABW OL-B Public Affairs

Organizations that support military families from Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases and Fort Sam Houston joined forces Aug. 6 for the first-ever Joint Base San Antonio Resource Fair and Activity Day at Morgan's Wonderland.

Morgan's Wonderland is a recreational facility in San Antonio that provides a safe place for children and adults with special needs to play sports, engage with friends and enjoy carnival-style rides. According to the park's vision statement, Morgan's Wonderland uses the "common element of play create an atmosphere of inclusion for those with and without disabilities so everyone can gain a greater understanding of one another."

The Department of Defense's Exceptional Family Members Program offers support for families who have special needs. More than 240 families enrolled in the EFMP from each installation registered to enjoy the park's facilities. There was also a resource fair so families could hear about several community support programs from both the military and civilian sector that cater to families with special needs.

Airman and Family Readiness Centers at each base received grants to host the resource fair and activity day.

The event involved coordination between Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases as well as Fort Sam Houston. Representatives from the EFMP and the A&FRC worked hard to make sure the day was a complete success.

Melissa Reyes, Fort Sam Houston's EFMP manager, said that hosting the event in a joint environment is great because it combines many resources.

"We are able to see what's available at each base and learn best practices; it is a whole focus," Ms. Reyes said.

Families echoed this sentiment. Army Private 1st Class Patrick Hall said that EFMP helped him learn about several different programs and he and his wife feel like they aren't alone in raising a child with special needs.

Wendy Warner, 902 Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant, and Marcia James, 802nd Force Support Squadron training and curriculum specialist, said they hope the resource fair and activity day will become an annual event.

For more information about the EFMP, contact the A&FRC at 652-5321.