Therapy service hosts holiday event for special needs children

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Sunshine Therapy Services specializes in helping families with special needs, and one way they decided to help out during the holidays was to give children with special sensory needs a way to experience the festivities with their families. 

“What we decided to do was throw an event for some of our children who have a hard time with crowds, make it a lot easier to do it for them,” Occupational Therapist Alyssa Culicerto said.

They set up events around their office that are more inclusive for kids with sensory needs.

According to Sunshine Therapy’s President Donna Evans, a lack of loud noises, large crowds or other distractions would help the kids focus and enjoy themselves. 

“We have a Sensory Santa and different areas they can have their picture made with or without Santa. We have crafts for them to make stories with hot chocolate and cookies. And everything’s socially distanced,” Evans said.

They say one key issue with helping kids with special needs is the sheer lack of resources in the area. And they just want children to feel like every other kid and give them a chance to enjoy the holidays like everyone else. 

“There’s not a lot here in Beckley for our children that specifically targets. And we want them to be like every other child out there. To be able to go see Santa, have their picture made with their family, just be able to enjoy the holidays.”

The events were also COVID-safe, with each event being limited to one family at a time. Each family would rotate between the events every 15 minutes to keep contact to a minimum.