Woodfield Mall announced today that it will hold a Caring Santa™ event this holiday season on Sunday, Dec. 8 from 8 to 10 a.m.
Caring Santa is a special event dedicated to families that have children with special needs, providing a subdued environment to visit the Simon® Santa Photo Experience.
The presenting sponsor for the 2013 Simon Santa Photo Experience is Microsoft retail store.
ABC Family, Universal and Gymboree are associate sponsors this year.
Caring Santa has been developed by Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG), the world's leading retail real estate company and is guided by AbilityPath.org, a national online resource hub and special needs community.
Simon's Caring Santa program has grown in popularity in a few short years to become the most comprehensive offering of its type in the shopping center industry. Started in 2010 in just a handful of malls, today over 100 Simon regional malls participate. Last holiday season, the program was featured on such national outlets as 'Entertainment Tonight' and www.parents.com, and well-known regional outlets such as The Orange County Register.
Many steps are taken to reduce sensory triggers, creating a more comforting environment for the children's magical visit with Santa. This environment is likely to include (specific elements or aesthetics may vary):
• Turning off in-mall music, stopping escalators located near the Santa set, dimming the lights, and shutting down fountains during the duration of the event.
• Eliminating queue lines through the use of a numbering system whereby guests approach the set when their number is called.
• Special activities and stories geared toward the needs of the child during the 'wait' period to help the child understand what activities will occur during the visit.
Sheryl Young, CEO of AbilityPath said, "That moment when a child gets to meet Santa is a magical one, and every child should get to have this magical moment. Unfortunately, many children with special needs have never had this opportunity. The hustle and bustle of the malls can be overwhelming to the children and their families. That is why we facilitate the Caring Santa Program with Simon Property Group; to create an environment that will lessen potential triggers for children with special needs."
"We are thrilled to be the venue for this incredible event," said Heather Lloyd, director of marketing and business development at Woodfield Mall. "The Caring Santa program brings a lot of joy to children with special needs and to see that happen at our mall is truly an honor."
Participants are encouraged to RSVP for the Caring Santa event at Woodfield Mall by going to www.CaringSanta.com.
About Simon Property Group
Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE: SPG) is an S&P 100 company and a global leader in the retail real estate industry. The Company currently owns or has an interest in more than 325 retail real estate properties in North America and Asia comprising approximately 242 million square feet. We are headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and employ approximately 5,500 people in the U.S. For more information, visit simon.com.
AbilityPath.org is an online hub and special needs community for parents and professionals to learn, connect and live a more balanced life. The website combines social networking features with expert content from AbilityPath.org's team of educators, parents, therapists and medical professionals.AbilityPath.org was created by Community Gatepath, a nonprofit with over 90 years of experience serving families and children with special needs by fostering hope, dignity and independence. AbilityPath.org may also be found on Facebook and Twitter.