The Christmas season is a time of bright lights, music and festive cheer. For families and children who prefer a more low-key, intimate season, Santa offers a quiet visits and keeps demands low. These “Sensitive Santa” sessions, allows the children or youth to lead the interaction and keeps noises like loud laughing, bells, as well as a lot of lights to a minimum. However, with Sensitive Santa there is no shortage of “Ho, ho, ho!”
Last year, Sensitive Santa made his first trip to Maltby Centre and many children from KFL&A visited him in person, according to a release from the Maltby Centre, dated Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. This year things are different for everyone. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa is visiting everyone over Zoom.
Families can have the Sensitive Santa experience from the comfort of their own homes. All you need is a computer, tablet, cellphone or any similar device with a WiFi connection. Sensitive Santa will be available over Zoom on December 9, 10, and 11 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
If you would like to participate, send an e-mail to Shelly Schonauer at [email protected]. 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.”
Photos Available If You Wish…
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, according to the release. Of course, photos are not required.
If a photo was requested it will be sent 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.
How Do I Decide if Sensitive Santa is Right for My Child?
Williams 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.”