By Kodey Toney
The Kids Are Alright
Tis the season for giving, and last week Jen and I had the opportunity to help out with one of our favorite projects of the year; Sensitive Santa.
While three counties in three days was a little stressful, it is well worth it for us.
This event was sponsored by the Pervasive Parenting Center, and there are so many people that help make it possible that I won't do that here. What I want to do is just talk about some of my favorite highlights from the trifecta of festivities.
The point of the Sensitive Santa events is to help children with disabilities not have to wait in line and go through the craziness involved in meeting the big guy at your typical mall setting. This way the kids can wander around while they wait, and approach him when they feel comfortable.
So, let me tell you about a little girl the first night in Stigler who has vision impairment. She visited with Santa very briefly and then found the games we provided. She seemed to enjoy the games more as she worked her way through tunnels and ring tosses...and that's okay.
There was an older child with down syndrome that visited one night and was overcome with excitement when she entered the building. She let out a loud squeal and headed directly to Santa. She spent a lot of her time with him, and at one point made Santa stand up and dance with her, complete with a spin and a dip...and that's okay.
We had one little boy that is non-verbal visit. He wandered around, visited the fish tank several times, and never did warm up to Santa. Santa strategically placed himself for pictures, but the boy would not sit in his lap...and that's okay.
There was a boy with autism that visited Santa quickly, got his pictures, and then spent most of his time watching the Peanuts Christmas stories and talking to me about Thomas the Train...and that's okay.
We had another boy who was non-verbal that didn't get a clear picture with Santa, but spent most of his time trying to figure out how the projector system worked...and that's okay.
We had a boy who has visited every year come in, sit on Santa's lap, and spend a lot of time chatting with the big guy. He felt he needed to spend his time catching up...and that's okay.
We had another boy who had to be kept from pulling on Santa's beard most of the time. He did visit with Santa and stay on his lap for pictures, but he is pretty much non-verbal. The smile on his face in the pictures tell me that he enjoyed his time with Santa...and that's okay.
There was a little girl that was grabbing cookies, testing them, and then trying to put them back. Our helpers had to keep a close watch on her, but let her do her thing...and that's okay.
You see, this is what it's all about. Letting these kids be themselves, and letting them do whatever is comfortable to them. It's all about the kids.
Santa, at all three locations, was awesome with the kids. I can't say enough about how they, the volunteers, and the communities came together to make a great Christmas for the more than 30 kids this year. Thank you to everyone.