Amy Jaffe Barzach

Photo Diary

When faced with the death of her son Jonathan, Amy channeled her grief into a living memorial where children and adults of all abilities could play, learn and celebrate life together.
Amy was inspired by her son who would have had a disability if he’d had a chance to grow up and a little girl in a wheelchair she’d seen saw sadly watching everyone else play on a playground she couldn’t get to or on. After his death, Amy marshaled an army of volunteers to create Jonathan’s Dream, one of the first inclusive, universally accessible playgrounds in America.  Located on the campus of the Mandell JCC, it was designed and built with the help of Learning Structures on land donated by the JCC and the Hebrew Home and Hospital.
Time magazine wrote a small article about Jonathan’s Dream after one of the volunteers contacted the magazine. People calling from across the country wanting to know how to do the same thing for the children of all abilities in their communities inspired Amy to lead a passionate team of parents and professionals to create a nonprofit dedicated to this cause in 1997. Thanks to a generous grant from Hasbro (www.hasbro.com), a national resource center was created in 1998 and inclusive playgrounds were built in 24 communities.
In 2007, after serving more than a decade as Boundless Playgrounds (www.boundlessplaygrounds.org) Founding Executive Director, Amy encouraged and whole-heartedly supported its Board of Directors’ hiring of Boundless Playgrounds’ first non-founder chief executive. She worked with the Board of Directors and the new CEO over nine months to achieve a smooth transition.
Amy started the next chapter of her life in October 2008 by launching Powerful Inspiration™, a company dedicated to inspiring people to imagine and work towards a world where everyone matters and everyone can make a difference. Her newest endeavor was created in response to the requests she has received over the years from people who have heard her speak and read her book Accidental Courage, Boundless Dreams.
Accidental Courage, Boundless Dreams, co-authored by Amy with Sandy Tovray Greenberg, is about deciding to thrive and make a difference despite or because of life’s trials, tribulations, and even tragedies.
Through speaking engagements, workshops, coaching and other educational programs, Amy helps people and organizations discover their passions and learn to use their unique strengths to achieve success and make a difference. Through national leadership roles, Amy is also working to educate policy makers and the public, and develop innovative programs to inspire people to create more inclusive and empowering communities.
Participants are inspired after attending Amy’s  workshops including “Finding Your Passion Through Play”, “Discovering Your Philanthropic Focus”, “Life Design 101” and “Everyone Can Make A Difference”. In this photo, participants play the game Candy Land© in a creative way to help them identify defining people and moments in their lives, clues to rediscovering their passion. Candy Land© is a product of Playskool and Hasbro. Amy started using toys and games in her workshop years ago. Later on Hasbro/Playskool, which makes Candy Land© became Boundless Playgrounds’ first national corporate sponsor. Over the last 10+ years, the companies and their employees have built 4 playgrounds in markets where they have facilities, provided technical services to help 24 economically challenged communities build inclusive communities and underwritten key programs.
During Amy’s tenure as its founding executive director, Boundless Playgrounds raised awareness of the need for and benefits of inclusive playgrounds generating interest from people in every state, developed 135 Boundless playgrounds in 25 states, and raised more than $20 million dollars for this cause.
Amy is working with a team led by the author of LifeDesign to expand its reach. The LifeDesign program teaches people how to live by choice instead of chance (www.lifedesign101.com).
  Amy celebrates the power of people and communities who care with Cliff Riley, District Manager and Mark Hall, Regional Manager, CVS Michigan on the slide at Play 4 All Boundless Playground in Wayne, MI. Hundreds of CVS/pharmacy associates from throughout Michigan raised more than $50,000 for and helped build this inclusive playground.
A new friend, Darrell shows Amy his favorite thing to do at the Boundless playground in Wayne, MI. Although Amy is no longer involved at Boundless Playgrounds other than as a donor, she is referred to as its “Founder and Director Emeritus”.
Amy thanks her family, Peter, Daniel, Alyssa and Michael, for their love and support as she dedicated the last decade of her life to Boundless Playgrounds. Jonathan would have been 18 next year.
When people hear Amy’s keynotes or participate in her workshops, they realized that they too have the power within themselves to spark the changes they want to see in the world. That they can bring about – in their own way and for the causes they care about – the kind of impact Amy has been able to achieve with inclusive playgrounds.