Toowoomba children with sensory disorders like autism and Asperger’s will be able to take part in a little Christmas magic at Grand Central this festive season.
Grand Central Marketing Manager Melissa Shaw said many families missed out on events because of sensory barriers.
“As part of our Christmas activities, Grand Central and our retailers wanted to ensure every child has the opportunity to have a photograph with Santa, go Christmas shopping, or go to a movie,” Ms Shaw said.
Not all children can cope with the sensory overload of lights, queues, lots of people and noise, so this Sunday Target will hold a sensory shopping event before regular trade hours from 8am-9am. They will provide a quiet environment with lights dimmed and music off. No bookings are required, and children can even meet Santa while they’re in the store!
Sensory Santa sessions will be held next month at Grand Central. It will be the centre’s third year holding these sessions, ensuring special needs children can get a photograph with Santa in a quiet and calming environment.
Ms Shaw said due to demand, Grand Central had now added a third session to the schedule. Sensory Santa will be hosted outside Centre trading hours, from 7.30am-9.30am on December 3, 10 and 17.
“With no background music noise or queues, families can capture a special photograph with Santa for their photo albums by booking a 10 minute appointment,” she said.
Sensory Souls Director Chanelle Avison started the Sensory Santa experience to take the stress out of the event for parents with special needs children.
“Sensory Santa gives families with special needs children individual time with Santa, to have a photo in an environment that caters for the child’s sensory disorder. A forever memory and a photo that says a thousand words and fills gaps in a family’s album that others might take for granted,” Ms Avison said.
For more information about Sensory Santa and to book an appointment, visit www.grandcentralshopping.com.au.
Along with 'Sensory Santa' events, children will also have the opportunity to watch a Sensory Friendly Movie on December 3 at 10.30am, ‘The Son of Bigfoot’, thanks to BCC Cinemas. Tickets are $6 and can be bought online or at the Box Office.
Courtney Watts, Assistant General Manager, BCC Cinemas said the cinema was proud to offer sensory friendly films monthly for families who previously hadn’t attended the cinema for fear of disturbing the patrons in a public session.
“These sessions offer an escape to the movies in a relaxed environment and enable guests to enjoy quality family time and be themselves,” Ms Watts said.
** Dates & Times
Sensory Events – Grand Central
Target Sensory Shopping
8:00am – 9:00am
Target, Level 1
BCC Cinema Session
BCC Cinema, Rooftop
7:30am – 9:30am
Santa’s Grotto, Ground Level near Kmart