Easter Bunny | Online Exclusives, March 2012

Egg-stra Special

Children with special needs can celebrate Easter with the Caring Bunny

Online ExclusivesIt’s a common spring sight to see children lining up in the malls to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap –– and just as common to hear the loud music and see the bright lights and vibrant set that add to the excitement for the children. Yet for many children with special needs, specifically kids with Autism, the Easter excitement is too much to bear.

Children with Autism can be hypersensitive and easily become over-stimulated by their surroundings. This sensory overload can be physically and mentally painful, often triggering a worsening of symptoms. This year, Washington Square Mall is offering these children a chance to enjoy the Easter tradition they may have previously missed out on.

The “Caring Bunny” will hop into Washington Square Mall for children with special needs and their families on Sunday April 1, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The event will be held prior to the mall’s opening, so that accommodations can be made to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs of all guests. For example, lights will be dimmed and music will be turned low to provide a soothing environment for special needs guests.

Caring Bunny is a joint program developed by The Noerr Programs, the digital imaging company that provides the Bunny Photo Experience for malls nationwide and AbilityPath.org, a national online resource hub and special needs community. Washington Square Mall is pleased and honored to be the host of this program during the Easter season.

“We had an overwhelming response to the launch of Caring Bunny and Caring Santa last year. As a result, we are thrilled to expand this program to 52 malls,” says Sheryl Young, CEO of AbilityPath.org. “Holding the event before the mall opens to the public helps provide a calmer, sensory-friendly environment,” Young adds.

For children with a variety of special needs, standing in line, bright flashes, crowds and sounds can create major disturbances and distractions.

“We take great care in making sure our photo setting is conducive to all abilities, to allow these families to participate in a heartwarming tradition that so many take for granted,” says Judy Noerr, CEO of The Noerr Programs. “It’s very rewarding to see the number of siblings who attend, many for the first time. It’s just as much for them, as it is for their brother or sister with special needs,” notes Noerr.

“We are honored to host the Caring Bunny Experience,” says Heather Lloyd, Area Director of Mall Marketing and Business Development. “Guests will listen to social stories that explain and anticipate the actions involved during their Bunny visit, then engage in coloring and other activities while they wait for their number to be called for their magical visit.”

The Caring Bunny takes place on Sunday, April 1 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. RSVP’s are requested at abilitypath.org. For more information, please contact the Washington Square Mall Management Office at (317) 899-4568.

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