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Ability Park Association

Author: Delphi Jarrett
Published Date: 15 October 2010

Ability Park was conceived in 2002 to connect the increasing interest in thematic parks and the human affection for games with the requirement of shifting social attitudes towards people with disabilities in an interactive fashion.

People with disabilities were facing a strange situation in the early 2000s in Hungary: although all basic human rights as well as specific and progressive legislations required for their social inclusion were assured, these legislations tended to be ignored by almost every segment of society. Important facts about people with disabilities - such as the relevance of physical, educational or employment accessibility - seemed to never reach the majority of society, so the situation cried for new methods and innovation. Ability Park was conceived in 2002 to facilitate such shifts in views required for the social integration and inclusion of people with disabilities.

Ability Park was designed as a complex equal opportunities project: on the one hand, its education and training program translates the problems of people with disabilities into the language of various professions (architecture, education, media, IT) and illustrates that disability is more a technical than a social issue. On the other hand, it is an employment program playing a significant role in the workplace rehabilitation of people with disabilities through the employment of blind, deaf, physically and mentally/intellectually disabled persons. Last, but not least, it is a tourist attraction offering a meaningful and pleasant experience through its permanent games (blind labyrinth, wheelchair labyrinth, sign-post, Wonder Town) and other games of logic and dexterity, workshops, tents and information services to all the visitors who wish to play, have a good time and test their abilities.

Ability Park has attended several Hungarian events since 2002, has been installed in many places temporarily and has participated at several hundred events around Hungary. Since 2008, Ability Park has its own (900 m2) exhibition space in the heart of Budapest. The Park permanently employs 60-80 people with various disabilities and is open 5 days a week as an exhibition, attracting more than 400,000 visitors since its opening. The methodology of the Park has drawn the attention of more and more professionals from other fields (other NGOs dealing with various minorities, thematic parks, trainers, etc.) as well as national experts. The Park has also proved to be sustainable: it is financed by sponsors, tenders, ticket incomes and company trainings.