---- — MANCHESTER — The Mall of New Hampshire will hold a Caring Santa event on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
Caring Santa is a special event dedicated to families with children with special needs, providing a subdued environment to visit the Simon Santa Photo Experience.
Simon’s Caring Santa program has grown in popularity in a few short years to become the most comprehensive offering of its type in the shopping center industry. Started in 2010 in just a handful of malls, today more than 100 Simon regional malls participate.
Many steps are taken to reduce sensory triggers, creating a more comforting environment for the children’s magical visit with Santa. This environment is likely to include (specific elements or aesthetics may vary):
Turning off in-mall music, stopping escalators located near the Santa set, dimming the lights, and shutting down fountains during the duration of the event.
Eliminating queue lines through the use of a numbering system whereby guests approach the set when their number is called.
Special activities and stories geared toward the needs of the child during the “wait” period to help the child understand what activities will occur during the visit.
“That moment when a child gets to meet Santa is a magical one, and every child should get to have this magical moment. Unfortunately, many children with special needs have never had this opportunity,” said Sheryl Young, CEO of AbilityPath. “The hustle and bustle of the malls can be overwhelming to the children and their families. That is why we facilitate the Caring Santa Program with Simon Property Group, to create an environment that will lessen potential triggers for children with special needs.”
Participants are encouraged to RSVP for the Caring Santa event at the Mall of New Hampshire by going to CaringSanta.com.
“We are thrilled to be the venue for this incredible event,” said Rebecca Murphy of the Mall of New Hampshire. “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.”