INMAN, SC (WSPA) – For the first time, Spartanburg County will host a sensory experience of Santa this holiday season designed for children with special needs.
From bright lights to Christmas jingles, the holidays are a time to come together and celebrate. Many families enjoy the hustle and bustle, but those with special needs can feel overwhelmed.
“It can be extremely overwhelming for these parents and families. It’s got a lot of people, it’s a lot of noise, a lot of crowds, a lot of music and lights, ”said Kristen Guilfoos, Marketing Manager for Spartanburg County Parks. “This is often what is not best for this population with special needs.”
That’s why Spartanburg County Parks is adding a new way to spread holiday cheer this season with its new sensory experience of Santa Claus.
“We will only have one family at a time. They have that fifteen minute block of time. So it will be quiet, we won’t have loud music, there won’t be any flashing lights, they will just have this one-on-one experience with Santa Claus, ”said Guilfoos.
The event will appeal to children of all ages and abilities.
Residents of Spartanburg County have said an event like this has been needed in the community for some time.
“It’s something the therapy world knows and is such an important part of Christmas. Kids love Christmas, kids love to see Santa Claus. So to see community leaders and community organizations recognize this is huge, ”said Sarah Emory, Owner and Founder of MTS Kids.
“It is so important that we can not only integrate our children with typical development, but also our children who might not develop in the same way as others. ”
Emory, owner and founder of a local children’s speech therapy site, is also a mother of three.
“Being a mother is one of the greatest gifts of my entire life,” Emory said.
She told 7NEWS that she was grateful to be living Christmas with her family and that she was excited to now see other ways other families can enjoy the festivities with their children.
“Seeing other moms serve their children the same way I can serve mine is what fills my heart,” Emory said.
The Santa Claus Sensory Experience will take place at the Lake Cooley Outdoor Education Center in Inman on Saturday December 11 and Saturday December 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pets are welcome.
It costs $ 20 to reserve a time slot. Children will receive time with Santa, a cookie, hot chocolate and the opportunity to make a holiday craft. There will be someone on hand to take pictures, but parents are encouraged to take theirs as well.
Spartanburg County Parks officials said there were limited spaces and it was on a first come, first served basis.