CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – A popular holiday display had some changes made to it, at least for the night. That’s because the Champaign Park District wanted to make sure every visitor was able to feel the cheer.
“We passed by, and I saw the lights and I figured it would be something cool and quick to do,” Melorene Grantham said.
Everyone loves a holiday light display, but some people might be extra sensitive to them. At Prairie Farm, the staff doesn’t want anyone to feel left out of the festivities. The Champaign Park District and Special Recreations Team is offering three sensory-friendly “Winter Night” experiences.
“We’re here to answer any questions regarding our facility and our organization so that’s one of the perks,” Adults Program Coordinator Nikiaya Brandon said.
Other perks include dimmer music, non-strobing lights and treat bags with peanut-free candy and fidget toys.
“Being able to have that time to just relax and be yourself and just enjoy everything that is here for you,” Brandon said.
It might not sound very different from the usual Winter Nights at Prairie Farm, but even a few small changes could mean a lot to those with sensory needs.
“A lot of people really appreciated that we were actually giving this to the community. It really does help people feel more included,” Brandon said.
Another accommodation includes slower foot traffic – something two visitors noticed.
“He recently injured himself, so this was a pretty easy walk for him so that’s really appreciated,” Judith Hampton said.
One guest said she didn’t know it was a sensory-friendly night, but she’s happy to hear about the district’s inclusion efforts.
“I think it’s really good that they’re including different needs of people. I think that’s really important – that everybody gets a chance to enjoy it,” Grantham said.
There are expected to be two more opportunities to attend a sensory-friendly Winter Night. But, the district said they may be rescheduled because of the weather – so you can find more details on their website.