DES MOINES, Iowa -- Sitting on Santa's lap is a time-honored tradition many kids look forward to every year, but it can be a stressful experience for kids with special needs. Two events will make the visit more accessible for kids of all abilities.
Journey Church is hosting its second Special Santa event this Saturday at the Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center. Families can sign up for appointments with the big guy. Lead Pastor Darrick Young says, “We keep it a little quieter so it doesn’t overwhelm them, but they get a chance to come in with their family, and for some of the kids, it’s their first opportunity to do this, and it means a lot to their families.”
This year, Santa will also be able to do sign language for kids who are deaf or hearing impaired. The event is from noon to 3 p.m. You can sign up for an appointment at specialsantaevent.com. The event is free and kids will get a gift bag and can take part in Santa's workshop activities.
Merle Hall Mall will host its Santa Cares event the next two Sundays. This is the second year for the mall to hold the event designed for families of kids with special needs. The lights will be dimmed and the music will be turned down. A company specializing in activities for kids with special needs developed Santa Cares for malls around the country. Ryan Tyrrell with Merle Hay Mall says, "Having accessibility and offering these opportunities for those that normally can't, we think is vital and important, especially here at the mall."
All the spots are full this Sunday, but you can still sign up for a session on December 14th from 9 to 11 a.m. Go to Merle Hay Mall's website for more information.