At the Michigan Presenters’ Meeting last June, Diane Willcox from Wharton Center made a presentation about Wharton Center’s new Sensory-Friendly Performances (SFPs), and thoughts on how to implement these programs for your organization. Now that the program is under way, we thought we would provide an update:
We had our first performance of the year at a performance of The Cat in the Hat family production – and it was a great success. We had 267 people attend, primarily families with young children on the spectrum. The audience also included adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as people with developmental disabilities and other issues. We are collaborating with over one hundred agencies around the state as we build our program, and we have found that our services are in great need. We are looking forward to presenting the family musical Clementine in March and Disney's The Lion King in July.
In conjunction with The Lion King SFP performance we are partnering with the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors’ Bureau to offer a “Lansing Welcome Weekend,” working with hotels, restaurants and other cultural organizations to provide services and programs for people with ASD. Front line staffs are being trained to make these families welcome, and to provide a judgement-free environment. Our goal is to make our entire community accessible and welcoming to those with all kinds of neuro-diversity.
Delta Dental has stepped forward as the primary sponsor of Wharton’s SFPs. They recognize the need for providing a welcoming, nonjudgmental and sensitive environment for persons with ASD. Dental care can be traumatizing for these patients, so Delta Dental has launched a dentist training program specifically geared toward this kind of patient care. Wharton’s SFP program fits this kind of outreach and sensibilities.
More information on our SFP programs can be found at whartoncenter.com/SFP.