Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kickoff Event Planned For Sunday, July 27th. Noon – 3pm

Jonathan Barzach may have lost his battle with Spinal Muscular Atrophy in January 1995, but his legacy continues to inspire hope for children and families, with and without disabilities, twenty years after his death.  

The Kickoff Event for Jonathan’s Dream Re-Imagined will be held on Sunday, July 27th, from 12:00 to 3:00 pm at the Mandell Jewish Community Center, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue in West Hartford.  

Activities will include:

  • 2 Bounce Houses from Innovative Inflatables
  • Ice Cream from Ben and Jerry’s in West Hartford
  • Face Painting 
  • Unveiling the design for the new ‘Jonathan’s Dream’ 

The event is free and open to the public.  Donations to help rebuild Jonathan’s Dream are greatly appreciated and will be accepted at the event.

The original ‘Jonathan’s Dream,’ a wooden, wheelchair- accessible, intergenerational playground, was built by more than 1,000 volunteers in 1996 to in memory of Jonathan Barzach, who died before his first birthday.  Had Jonathan lived, he would have needed to use a wheelchair for his entire life.  His family imagined that in Jonathan’s dreams, he would have wanted children of all abilities to be able to play and celebrate together.  Jonathan’s Dream was one of the first inclusive playgrounds in the country and for almost twenty years, many local families’ favorite playground. Due to heavy use and wooden playgrounds only lasting 15-20 years, it had to be torn down in 2013.  

“Jonathan’s Dream meant so much to so families and to us.  It would be devastating if it were torn down and forgotten,” said Amy Jaffe Barzach, Jonathan’s mother and founder of the non-profit, Boundless Playgrounds.  

With that in mind, the Barzach family is working with an Alumni Task Force from Leadership Greater Hartford (which is leading the project), Shane’s Inspiration (which is donating all of its services to design the new Jonathan’s Dream) and Ronit Shoham (amazing West Hartford woman who is serving a coordinator for the project) in partnership with the Mandell JCC to bring Jonathan’s Dream back to life.  

Leadership Greater Hartford, a non-profit organization that provides community leadership training formed an Alumni Task Force to lead the project.  Known as the ‘Jonathan’s Dream Team’, its members are community leaders who graduated from  Leadership Greater Hartford’s Quest and Third Age Initiative programs.  The ‘Jonathan’s Dream Team’ is developing a marketing and fundraising strategy and planning multiple fundraising events to help raise the money needed to complete the project. Building the playground, however, will be no easy feat, as the project is expected to cost $950,000.  Jonathan’s Dream will be rebuilt three to six months after the needed funds are raised.

Jonathan’s Dream Re-Imagined will incorporate the essence of the best elements of the original Jonathan’s Dream with new and exciting, high activity state-of-the-art playground equipment, such as an accessible zip-line (one of the first in the country), an incredible tree house, Beluga Island, fully accessible pathways throughout and around the playground, and a discovery village for children.