Families experience sensory-friendly event with Santa at Greenbrier Mall


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Santa was ready to hear what kids have on their Christmas list this year.  He made his way from the north pole to the Greenbrier Mall in Chesapeake before stores opened for the day.

Greenbrier Mall teamed up with Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks to host a sensory-friendly event  called “Santa Cares.” The idea gives kids and family members with special needs the chance to take a picture with him before the mall gets busy.

Sensory triggers such as bright lights and music were put on hold to keep the environment calm.

Mother Kerri Darden says shes grateful for the experience.  “The experience was very personable; I really enjoyed it because my son is special needs.  He has epilepsy and global development delay, so sitting in long lines during the regular Santa picture day is very hard”.  Darden says those working to take the family pictures were very patient.  “It’s so hard to get a picture of both my kids.  She will hold her smile, but he is a mover,” said Darden.

Kids were also able to go to tables near by to color before and after meeting Santa.

The event ran Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Darden says she left with a great experience and a perfect photo for the holidays.

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