COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – A special night in Columbiana provides a welcoming environment for children with special needs and their families. We saw first-hand how much this event means to the kids, parents and the organizers.
Santa’s Special Night at The Joy of Christmas Light Show welcomes families of children with special needs from all over to enjoy a safe holiday environment.
This is their sixth year and it all started because one family had a hard time visiting with Santa in any other capacity.
“Several years ago, I was just venting my frustration about trying to find a way for Sarah to see Santa Claus. When you have a child with special needs, it’s just sometimes hard to just get out of the house. So to have to stand in line or figure things out, it’s just not always very convenient,” said Terri Williams.
“They can be very overwhelming, lots of sensory overload, you know? The Santa experience in general can be a little bit hard for little kids and so we’ve tried to do what we can to make it easier for families who have special needs,” said event director Kathy Keaggy.
And that’s exactly what they did.
Families say it’s the perfect event for children with special needs. Not only do they get to meet Santa, but they also have toys and other activities for them to do.
“We have Mason the therapy dog and his trainer, Lauren. We’ve got some activities like some sensory things for our guests to play with, some games, tons of great volunteers helping,” Keaggy said.
Families say they love this event and it means so much to them to be able to come and enjoy the holidays like everyone else.
“We’re surrounded by friends and you just feel the spirit of Christmas all around you,” Williams said.
Organizers say they plan on doing this event every year.