Just in case you haven’t heard, as Santa makes his rounds each year visiting children—naughty and nice— with loud festivities, lights and Christmas cheer, he also makes a special trip to visit boys and girls who prefer a more low-key, intimate approach away from bright lights, loud noises, long lines and wait times. On these visits he calls himself Sensitive Santa.
Last year, Sensitive Santa made his first trip to Maltby Centre and many children from KFL&A visited him in person. This year things are different for everyone. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa is visiting everyone through ZOOM. This way everyone can have the Sensitive Santa experience from the comfort of home. All you need is a computer, tablet, cellphone or any similar device with a WIFI connection. Sensitive Santa will ZOOM with us this year on December 9, 10, 11 between 3:00pm and 5:00pm each day.
If you would like to participate send an e-mail to Shelly Schonauer at firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to include your child’s name and the day you would like to see Sensitive Santa. Your timeslot and ZOOM link will be sent out to you separately to confirm.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone, but Santa is still on the job, and Maltby Centre is happy to help. Sensitive Santa is a great opportunity for young members of our community to have a visit with Santa that is caring, supportive and accessible,” says Mike Williams, Program Manager at Maltby Centre. “The Sensitive Santa experience creates a judgement free zone and supports all modes of communication.”
On the day of the event each family will be greeted by Sensitive Santa’s elves. If the family would like a photo the elves can verify that the Maltby Centre has the consent form or can get consent on the ZOOM call. However, photos are not required. If a photo was requested it will be sent to you via e-mail within a week. (Once photos are sent, the consent form and the pictures are permanently deleted from the Maltby Centre’s system.) Families join the ZOOM meeting one at a time and connect with Sensitive Santa individually.
Mike says that while Sensitive Santa was originally designed to help children and youth on the autism spectrum participate in activities they may enjoy and do things that make them happy, many children and youth actually prefer the low key, intimate approach. He says your answers to the following questions will help you to decide if the Sensitive Santa experience is right for your family.
-Does your child show an interest in Santa?
-Have visits to other Santa events been difficult in the past?
-Do you think your child/youth would prefer an interaction with Santa that is more “low key”?
-Do you like to avoid lines?
-Do you think the potential benefits of a Santa visit outweigh any possible risks?
-Do you want to give it a try and see? (There is no obligation. Children can walk away easily from the remote interaction.)
“Sensitive Santa is a fun way to provide a satisfying social opportunity for children and youth, Mike says. “We hope the broader KFL&A community enjoys it as much as we do.”