Thanks to Chanelle for providing me with information about Sensory Santa experiences around Australia. I am thrilled to see such a collection of Sensory Santa locations for 2015. Let’s hope this list keeps growing. I’ve asked Chanelle to share a bit about herself, why she created Sensory Movie Days and Sensory Santa experiences for children. A wonderful initiative ensuring families with a child with special needs can still enjoy a visit to Santa. Over to Chanelle……………
My name is Chanelle Avison (Volunteer) and I created “Sensory Movie Day” which is a Not-For-Profit Organisation for families with special needs. “Sensory Movie Day” runs at 13 Locations in Qld and NSW. We hold sensory friendly movie sessions once a month, so families with special needs can come to a non-judgemental screening. We cater for their needs, lighting on dim, sound lowered, children are free to move around and talk during the movie. “Sensory Movie Day” has been running for 4 years. We also run at least two events during every school holidays. We also give every child a Christmas present from Santa during our Christmas movie. All presents are kindly donated by local businesses. I am also a parent with Autistic 11yr old twins, I understand the isolation and the judgement from others. That’s why I am so passionate about offering other events that others may take for granted.
Over 3 years ago I approached a couple of shopping centres about hosting “Sensory Santa”. It was so popular my Local shopping centre had to run 3 days (2hrs each day) to cater for all the special need families. It had a huge impact on families who had never been able to have a Santa photo with their child because of their child’s sensory disorder. I myself had a Santa photo with my twins when they were 9 months old and their next one was when they were 9 years old and it was only because of “Sensory Santa”
Last year we had lots of shopping centres jump on board, from Cairns down to The Gold Coast and out to Toowoomba. I set up a Facebook page “Sensory Santa Qld” it became the hub for where everyone came to find out which centres were running them. The page reached over 30,000 people during the Christmas Period. I also have a mailing list of 1000’s of families and I am connected with Disability Organisations/Schools & Media. I have a great rapport in the disability community nationwide.
participating shopping centres –
Last year I attended 4 Locations and helped coordinate & handed out Balloon Animals to all the children. I passed on feedback from families who also shared their Santa photos. This year I have been invited to attend 4 Shopping centres in my area from Sunday 15th November till the last Sunday before Christmas.
I can take bookings again this year. I send a reminder text message 2 days before the event to everyone that is booked in.
For those centres that will take their own bookings, I keep in contact, check in with concierge every week with how the bookings are going and promoting the event. The video below shows more about the events run and co-ordinated by us, including Sensory Santas –
What is needED to host Sensory Santa
Sensory Santa is an inclusive event for families with special needs that have Sensory disorders like Autism.
– Spotlights turned off,
– No background music
– Before trading hours (morning)
– Appointments (5mins each 10mins for families with 4children or more)
-discount on photos (Would be appreciated if possible)
-Santa informed on what is a Sensory Child (resource attached)
– Sunday mornings are preferred (Usually your quiet time)
-Signs around display (Saying private Booking)
-understanding photographer staff
Thanks to Chanelle for her efforts to ensure all families can participate in movie days and a visit to Santa. For more information about Sensory Movie Days head to their Facebook page. For our overseas friends, I have looked online and I notice plenty of listings for Sensory Santa for last year so many shopping malls are offering this service around the world. I’d suggest contacting your local mall early in the season to check if this is on offer.
If you like this blog post why not subscribe to receive our blogs via email. Head to the top right-hand side of the page and you will find the subscribe tab. If you are not already a member of our facebook community, why not head over and ‘like’ our page. We are very fortunate to have a generous and well travelled facebook community full of ideas and information.