Transforming a space into an inclusive and accessible area often involves addition. In order to create an atmosphere that welcomes everyone, it’s important to make sure that the physical components of the area can serve every person, which can mean adding guardrails, Braille signs, and ramps.
However, there are times when inclusivity means a subtraction. Where bright lights, vivid textures, and loud noises can signal a passionate display of joy and vigor for some, for others the intense influx of sensory information is both draining and painful. Neurodivergent people, like those on the autism spectrum, are often closed off from fun and unique experiences because lights and noise are inextricably bound up in the kinds of events that tend to draw crowds.
Lighting the right way
Urban Air Adventure Park in Willow Grove is combatting the idea that people with sensory processing issues must either soldier through sensory assault or forego the fun. Starting December 8, the second Sunday of every month will have a 90-minute period with no flashing lights, no whistles, and no music, specifically designed around the needs of children with sensory processing difficulties and their siblings and caregivers. From 10 to 11:30am, neurodivergent kids can enter a space that caters to them and their needs, where they are free to play, bounce, and jump without the intrusions of excessive light and sound.
Urban Air offers kids and caregivers a chance to jump, run, and move among various attractions. Trampolines, sky coasters, and obstacle courses, as well as a designated play area for kids under 7 and a full-service café, are among the attractions.
Sensory-friendly events are staffed by team members who have personal and professional experience in creating enriching environments for people on the autism spectrum.
The air park is joining the growing ranks of movie theaters, museums, and other public spaces setting aside sensory-friendly times to include neurodivergent individuals and families in their cultural offerings. When asked what inspired Urban Air, general manager Adam Meadows said, “[We recognized] the need for inclusion and the desire of many parents and children to have a place to play with more interesting attractions. We also wanted to, and continue to look for, ways to give back.”
What, Where, When:
Urban Air Adventure Park offers sensory-friendly attractions every second Sunday of each month, December 8 through May 10, 2020, at 1150 Easton Rd., Willow Grove, PA.
Urban Air Adventure Park is a play at-your-own-risk, set-your-own-pace trampoline park with height minimums ranging from 41” to 52” for various attractions and a designated play area for children under 7. The onsite café can accommodate food allergies and sensitivities with advance notice.