KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some metro families of kids with disabilities have some new and special Christmas memories thanks to an all inclusive holiday event.
Zona Rosa offered a chance for kids with disabilities and sensory impairments to experience Santa in their own way with Sensitive Santa.
For those who need some extra time and care, to kids who find the normal Santa sit-down overwhelming the shopping center turned down the music and dimmed the lights.
The kids were able to enter the photo room for a private experience and were able to find Santa on their own. Jenny Kincaid Julian, a representative for Zona Rosa, says offering a chance like this is what the Christmas season is all about.
“Every child, whether you have a sensory issue or any kind of disability, should be able to experience Santa in the season the way they can, so they are as happy as everyone else,” Kincaid Julian said. “It’s important for us to include everybody.”
Four-year-old Gabby from Kansas City has autism and is non-verbal. Thanks to Sensitive Santa she was able to meet Santa on her own terms. Gabby explored the igloo in the room and played with her slinky while her parents and sister experienced it with her. About ten minutes later she spotted Santa and ran up to him happy to sit on his lap and take pictures with a photographer at the ready.
Gabby’s mom, Jamie Monahan, is thankful for the event. She said she hopes other stores and kid-friendly places offer sensory sensitive events in the future.
“If they look at us they think she’s just having a tantrum or something, but it’s a meltdown because of all the stuff that’s going on around her, so it would be great if other places could have the same opportunities for her,” Monahan said.
The shopping center says they are considering another Sensitive Santa event this season, and are hoping to make it an annual event.