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Amy Jaffe Barzach: Boundless Playgrounds

People say that Amy Jaffe Barzach knows both tragedy and triumph. When faced with the death of her son, Jonathan, she channeled her grief into a living memorial. 

"Inspired by Jonathan, who would have had a disability if he'd had a chance to grow up, and a little girl in a wheelchair I'd seen sadly watching everyone else play on a playground she couldn't get to or on, I marshaled an army of volunteers to create one of the first inclusive playgrounds," Amy says.

Always passionate about making sure everyone was included, Amy started to dream of a world where everyone was welcomed and empowered to contribute. After Time magazine published a small piece on Jonathan's memorial playground, people across America called, asking how they could do the same for children of all abilities in their communities. "This led me to establish a nonprofit dedicated to this cause with a passionate team of parents and professionals," says Amy. 

Boundless Playgrounds is now known as the first national nonprofit dedicated to helping communities create extraordinary playgrounds where children, with and without disabilities, can play and learn together. 

After turning the leadership of Boundless Playgrounds over to its CEO and Board in September, Amy continues to support the cause as its Founder and Director Emeritus. Her new dream is helping communities realize the power and the potential of inclusion, and how it benefits everyone. She's doing this through national leadership roles such as chairing the Inclusive Fitness Coalition's Inclusive Play Workgroup. Amy is also helping people and organizations find their passion, achieve success, and make a difference through speaking engagements and programs. Today, there are 142 Boundless playgrounds in 26 states, with dozens more in development.

See Amy's Photo Diary

Comments (25)

  • 15 Nov, 2008

    From one who was with you in the trenches from concept to fruition, Congratulations, Amy! I can attest to your passion to inspire all people of all ages and all abilities to reach for the stars. You have touched the lives of thousands throughout the country and beyond. And your work to bring Boundless Playgrounds to a nationally recognized organization is just the beginning! You are most deserving of this award!

  • 13 Nov, 2008

    Congratulations Amy!! You are so very deserving of this Grand Prize! Martha really did pick the BEST! Your strength and determination in honoring Jonathan is so very inspiring! Your unselfish love has touch the lives of so many families! You have not only given the children with and without disabilities a place to play together but you have given parents with disabilities a way to play with their kids! Hope you and your family enjoy those wonderful vacations! God bless you!

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Congrats, Amy. And thanks, Martha. Your dreams have brought unbelievable joy to so many. What wonderful achievements for improving the quality of life.

    Jody in Seattle

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Well deserved! You have made such a difference in the lives of children!
    Katie, California

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    YAY AMY!!!!! It was such a pleasure to meet you and I am learning much from your book. Congratulations on a much deserved win. May I reach your level of national success. Any time you want to share your wisdom regarding national expansion, I'll be thrilled to hear from you!!!! -Tricia, Normal Moments

  • 12 Nov, 2008

    Congratulations to you Amy on the award today! What a wonderful thing to do!

  • 11 Nov, 2008

    Children of ALL ability throughout the state of Pennsylvania have been personally impacted by the heart and vision of Amy Jaffe Barzach and the generosity of PLAYSKOOL and GameTime. In April of 2007, our region was awarded the grand prize of the PLAYSKOOL Win a Boundless Playground Essay Contest. As an educator, I have witnessed children of ALL ability play and grow together on McCullough's Boundless Playground. No longer are children sidelined and left out of the fun!

  • 10 Nov, 2008

    Amy, your tireless efforts and determination are so admirable. Congratulations on your amazing acheivements and those yet to come! SW

  • 5 Nov, 2008

    Congratulations Amy! Well deserved.

  • 2 Nov, 2008

    Hi Amy, As I read through the stories of the finalists. I was very touched by what you have done to help children with disabilities. Looking forward to meeting you in New York. Keep up the awesome work!

  • 2 Nov, 2008

    Amy,
    What an incredible gift you are giving children that might not otherwise get to enjoy a day at the park. Hopefully your vision will be copied throughout the country. I wish all of you could be winners in this contest but at the very least, you are a winner in life and are to be commended.
    Eph

  • 2 Nov, 2008

    Your vision to create playgrounds where every child is "created equally" has provided fun filled opportunities for children faced with physical challenges as well as children without special needs . My granddaughter who has a mild case of c.p. and her sister who does not have physical challenges play together at Boundless Playgrounds and both have fun filled experiences. I hope your vision continues to spread throughout our country and other children benefit from your passion and vision.

  • 22 Oct, 2008

    If I could have chosen anyone in the world to be my friend there is no doubt in my mind it would have been you. You have been such an inspiration to me and that you consider me as your friend has been an honor and a privilege. That you could have turned your personal tragedy into something so positive and benefited so many others also never ceases to amaze me. If the world was filled with others who are as selfless and generous as you it would be a far better place.

  • 20 Oct, 2008

    Congratulations Amy! You are an extraordinary woman who inspires us all and the epitome of the saying, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Thousands of children's lives have been changed forever through your dedication and visionary leadership. "There are angels on earth as there are angels in heaven, one have I seen and known." How blessed are we to have you paving the way to an honorable world for all of our children. With great gratitude and respect, Tiffany

  • 20 Oct, 2008

    Amy Jaffe Barzach Jonathan's Dream is absolutely wonderful. My sister has always been confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. I can remember as a child how she would watch us swing and climb and just look so sad. What a great inspiration and role model Amy is.

  • 16 Oct, 2008

    Amy Jaffe Barzach is one of the finest women on the planet! Before Jonathan's Dream was built, my special needs son, David, had no place to play. Thanks to Amy, my son learned how to walk at Jonathan's Dream...and could play side-by-side with his sister! Amy has changed the lives of so many children with special needs...and has helped hundreds of families to not feel so alone

  • 16 Oct, 2008

    Amy Jaffe Barzach is one of the finest women on the planet! Before Jonathan's Dream was built, my special needs son, David, had no place to play. Thanks to Amy, my son learned how to walk at Jonathan's Dream...and could play side-by-side with his sister! Amy has changed the lives of so many children with special needs...and has helped hundreds of families to not feel so alone

  • 16 Oct, 2008

    Amy Jaffe Barzach is one of the finest women on the planet! Before Jonathan's Dream was built, my special needs son, David, had no place to play. Thanks to Amy, my son learned how to walk at Jonathan's Dream...and could play side-by-side with his sister! Amy has changed the lives of so many children with special needs...and has helped hundreds of families to not feel so alone

  • 15 Oct, 2008

    Thank you Amy for your dedication and hard work. Inclusive playgrounds should exist in every community. It is important for every child to belong. The opportunity for differently abled children (or dif-abled as my son likes to be called) to play along side their friends helps promote self confidence and empathy in all children. Well done! You have my vote.

    Connor's mom

  • 15 Oct, 2008

    Thank you Amy for your dedication and hard work. Inclusive playgrounds should exist in every community. It is important for every child to belong. The opportunity for differently abled children (or dif-abled as my son likes to be called) to play along side their friends helps promote self confidence and empathy in all children. Well done! You have my vote.

    Connor's mom

  • 15 Oct, 2008

    Thank you Amy for your dedication and hard work. Inclusive playgrounds should exist in every community. It is important for every child to belong. The opportunity for differently abled children (or dif-abled as my son likes to be called) to play along side their friends helps promote self confidence and empathy in all children. Well done! You have my vote.

    Connor's mom

  • 13 Oct, 2008

    Inclusive playgrounds were relatively unheard of until Amy so bravely ventured forth to create Boundless Playgrounds in memory of her beautiful son Jonathan. Because of Amy, differently abled children are no longer sitting on the sidelines like that little girl was years ago. Thank you for changing the lives of children everywhere, including my nephew Shaun. Congratulations on your nomination to Dreamers/Doers and especially on your 142 Boundless Playgrounds (and counting) nationwide!

  • 13 Oct, 2008

    Congratulations Amy on being recognized as a Dreamer/Doer. What you have accomplished with Boundless Playgrounds is truly remarkable, but words cann n n n n n t do justice to the real thing. They are indeed inclusive, but you have to see one in the flesh to begin to understand the power of all the things youn n n n n n ve incorporated into a small space. I still remember my astonishment and wonderment when I visited my first one in L.A. 3 years ago. Every community needs a Boundless Playground.

  • 8 Oct, 2008

    Thank you for being a finalist and introducing us to your nonprofit organization... Kids all over the world should be able to play in a playground together. Congratulations!

  • 8 Oct, 2008

    Wonderful! Congrats on being a Finalist!