HCN News & Notes

‘Santa Cares’ at Holyoke Mall Caters to Children with Special Needs

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall will host “Santa Cares” on Sunday, Dec. 6 from 9 to 11 a.m., allowing children with special needs to be welcomed into a photo environment designed to support their sensory, physical, and developmental needs.

The event is a result of a joint partnership between AbilityPath.org, a national online resource hub and special-needs community, and the Noerr Programs, a leading marketing and digital-imaging company providing the Santa and Easter Bunny photo experience at malls nationwide.

“Every family of children with special needs has probably had at least one mall photo moment that was less than ideal. A traditionally heartwarming experience can become overwhelming, and, as a result, many special-needs families opt not to partake in this tradition,” said Sheryl Young, CEO of AbilityPath.org. “With the help of Holyoke Mall, we are changing that. We have worked together to lessen potential triggers, by having the event occur during private mall hours and making other slight adjustments that provide a calmer, sensory-friendly environment for all children to enjoy.”

Lisa Wray, director of Marketing at Holyoke Mall, noted that “we are thrilled to be the venue for this incredible event. Santa Cares brings joy to children with special needs in our community, and it is truly an honor to be involved in this program.”

Added Judy Noerr, CEO of the Noerr Programs, “Santa Cares fulfills our dream of providing a comforting and physically accommodating experience for families with children that have special needs. We appreciate the participation of Holyoke Mall in expanding this program, allowing more families to share the magic and tradition of the holidays.”

The event kicks off at 9 a.m. and continues until 11 a.m. in Café Square at Holyoke Mall. Families are encouraged to RSVP prior to the event at www.abilitypath.org.