Blinking lights, clanging sleigh bells, and crowded lines characterize numerous Santa-visit experiences, but for children with sensory sensitivities, including those on the autism spectrum, such an atmosphere can be anything but jolly.
Understanding that every child deserves a special Santa moment, the West Chester University Alumni Association will host children with sensory sensitivities ranging from three to 19 years old and their parents during a Sensory-Friendly Evening with Santa on Wednesday, Dec. 1 from 4:30-7 PM at the WCU Alumni & Foundation Center, located at 202 Carter Drive.
The event is open to members of the community and WCU alumni. Adults are $10, and children are free. Reservations are required.
The annual Sensory-Friendly Evening with Santa will feature a quiet room that will be available throughout the entire experience. Children and youth will have memorable moments and sensory-friendly pictures with Santa, tailored arts and crafts, a cookie decorating station, snacks, and goodie bags.
Santa will be assisted throughout the event by WCU “student elves” from the Dub-C Autism Program (D-CAP), which provides support to degree-seeking WCU students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the Golden Rams Society, a group of 30 student ambassadors from the university.
“Our crafts have been specifically selected with the help of our dedicated staff at D-CAP and feedback from parents,” said Brigid Gallagher, assistant director of alumni engagement. “We have tailored the crafts to the fine motor abilities and sensory capacities of the children and youth attending, while also providing lots of options. Santa and his elves are looking forward to one-on-one time with those present and getting everyone into the holiday spirit before his big trip around the world.”
Celebrating all diversity is at the heart of the holiday event.
“We recognize that our alumni and children have a variety of needs,” said Gallagher. “As the university’s D-CAP program continues to grow, we are looking forward to this partnership evolving to create an even more inclusive alumni association.”