This Sunday Quaker Bridge Mall will host a special event intended for parents and caregivers who have a child with special needs who would like their loved one to pose for a photo with Santa but are concerned that the experience of going to a loud, crowded venue to do so might be overwhelming.
From 8 to 10 a.m. on Dec. 9 at the mall in the 3300 block of Route 1 (Brunswick Pike) in Lawrence Township the “Caring Santa” event will provide a “subdued environment” that will, it is hoped, make things a bit easier for such families to get that holiday snapshot with Father Christmas.
Caring Santa has been developed by the mall’s owner, Simon Property Group Inc., and is guided by AbilityPath.org, a national online resource hub and special needs community.
To reduce sensory triggers and create a more comforting environment for special needs children, in-mall music will be turned off, escalators located near the Santa set will be stopped, lights will be dimmed and fountains will be shut down.
Queuing lines will be eliminated through the use of a numbering system whereby guests approach the Santa set when their number is called, and there will be special activities and stories geared toward the needs of the children during the ‘wait’ period to help them understand what activities will occur during the visit with Santa.
This will be the second year for the “Caring Santa” program at many Simon malls.
“Last year, we saw families who received a Santa photo with their child for the very first time,” said Sheryl Young, CEO of AbilityPath.org. “We are fortunate to have terrific alliances with Simon and their photo operators who have worked with us to lessen potential triggers, like having the event occur during private mall hours and other slight adjustments that help provide a calmer sensory-friendly environment for all children to enjoy.”
“We are thrilled to be the venue for this incredible event,” said Marian Kapp, director of mall marketing at Quaker Bridge Mall. “The Caring Santa program brings a lot of joy to children with special needs and to see that happen at our mall is truly an honor.”
Participants are encouraged to RSVP for the “Caring Santa” event at Quaker Bridge Mall by going to www.AbilityPath.org.