Sensitive Santa is coming back for his 3rd year thanks to a team of Kelowna realtors!
For the third year in a row, a special kind of Santa visit is happening at Orchard Park Mall. Sensitive Santa is an event for families with children living on the Autism Spectrum. Children living on the Autism Spectrum can be sensitive to the noises and lights of a typical Santa visit. Kelowna Realtors, Tracey and Quincy Vrecko started the Sensitive Santa event 2 years ago. They recognized this family tradition was hard on their son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“We could see he was going into sensory overload. He would cover his ears and try to hide his face, it seemed like it was torture for him to be there”. says Vrecko
Long lines, bright lights and loud music over the hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping crowd can be overwhelming for anyone, let alone, a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (known as ASD). ASD is a neurological disorder affecting 1 in 68 children. It is common for children with ASD to have a heightened sensitivity to sound, lights and touch. A family event, such as a Santa visit, slowly can turn into a disaster.
Tracey and Quincy Vrecko have 2 boys, one of whom has been diagnosed with ASD. They were desperate to make this family tradition a happy experience for everyone. So they came up with a solution to their son’s sensory needs and created Sensitive Santa.
What is Sensitive Santa?
With the help of Orchard Park Mall and Autism Okanagan, the Vreckos have been bringing this new family tradition to Kelowna for 3 years now. Special Santa visits are appointment only and done after mall hours to ensure a controlled environment. With the music off and lights dimmed, each family has 5 whole minutes with the big man himself.
“It’s a magical experience. Parents would tell me they just gave up on trying to visit Santa until now. Watching the smiles on everyone’s face is so heartwarming” says Quincy, who admits to tearing up throughout the evening.
With such an overwhelming response to the event last year, a third day will be added. These special Sensitive Santa visits will be held at Orchard Park Mall on December 3rd, 10th and 17th from 6pm-8pm.
This year we are also expanding into Vernon! Visits in Vernon will be held at Village Green Centre December 3rd from 9am-11am.
To schedule a time with Santa, visit SensitiveSantaOkanagan.ca or call 778-760-2860.