SNAP playground to be dedicated in memory of Stallings’ son
By By Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle’s special needs playground will soon bear a dedication to the beloved son of a former University of Alabama coach.
SNAP of Morgan County will have a dedication ceremony in memory of John Mark Stallings Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. John Mark`s father, Coach Gene Stallings, will participate in the dedication ceremony at the playground site adjacent to the Sparkman Civic Center.
John Mark`s life serves to exemplify the inspiration for SNAP. Born June 11, 1962, to Gene and Ann Stallings, Johnny was challenged by Down Syndrome and not expected to live beyond a few years but with the aid and encouragement of a loving family and caring friends, Johnny persevered for 46 years growing into the kind of man who inspired all who knew him. During his life, he impacted thousands of lives and received numerous awards, honorary recognitions and endowments in his name. Among his many accomplishments, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary International and an Honorary Marine in the U.S. Marine Corps and had the honor of being photographed with three United States presidents.
The SNAP playground offers opportunities, which were previously limited or nonexistent, to special needs children and their families. The lives of these children are significantly improved through association and participation in activities with other children who have no physical constraints. They gain self-confidence and feel more worthy and useful. Other children more readily accept them as peers. Mutual benefits are gained that endure throughout their lives. They mature mentally and physically to higher levels as a result of a positive, altered mental attitude and enabled physical activity. These benefits permeate throughout the families resulting in mutual reinforcement within the families and serving to inspire those outside the family. The overall result is that special needs children and their families typically live longer than predicted, lead more productive lives and are less encumbered by typical social constraints.