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How this Christmas event makes seeing Santa inclusive to all children

Posted at 11:31 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 23:31:39-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The holiday season can be one that is chaotic for many families. However, the chaos can make the situation worse or unbearable for some kids who have sensory issues.

The Children's Museum of Richmond is hoping to change that experience with their collaboration with VCU's College of Health Professions for their annual Sensitive Santa event.

Organizers have been putting on the event for ten years and curating nights specifically for kids who are on the autism spectrum, have sensory issues or have other special needs.

Heather Guthrie is both a student who volunteers at the event and a sibling of someone who is directly impacted, her brother, Ethan.

"He's the reason I'm in OT school right now. He loves being here, he loves Christmas," Guthrie said.

Organizers said the event gives families an atmosphere that looks different for visiting Santa, including smaller crowds, no wait, dim lighting and fewer sounds than normal.

The kids get to play in the museum as well as do other activities put on by VCU.

"I really wish there were more things like this, where my son can take his time and relax and he's not being rushed and he has a welcome atmosphere. It's just great," Alayna Tignor, the mother of a child who attended, said.

Thursday marked the last Sensitive Santa event of the year but the organizations are already excited and planning for next year.

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