FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ray Weiss or Jessica Tiller
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Program Helps Ease Airport Stress for Families with Autism
BALTIMORE, MD (11/30/15) — To help ease the stress many children and adults with autism experience when traveling by air, The Arc Baltimore and other chapters of The Arc throughout Maryland are partnering with BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Southwest Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and AIRMALL to hold Wings for Autism®.
Wings for Autism® offers individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families a chance to practice the sometimes challenging aspects of airline travel – from parking and shuttling to the airport terminal to checking-in, going through security, boarding the aircraft, and interacting with airport personnel along the way.
Wings for Autism® also gives airport, airline, TSA professionals, and other personnel the opportunity to observe, interact, and deliver their services in a structured, learning environment.
To be held on Saturday, December 5 at BWI Thurgood Marshall International Airport, Wings for Autism® will include 70 families from across Maryland. They will arrive independently and find their way to the airport by noon and first be treated to a reception by AIRMALL, then proceed to The Southwest Airlines international passenger ticket counter, located adjacent to the B/C security checkpoint.
All participants will be at the gate by 1:45 and will board by 2:00. Once on board, flight attendants will provide the usual pre-flight instruction and simulate some aspects of the flight experience. Participants will depart the aircraft by 3 p.m. and then proceed to pick up their luggage by 3 p.m.
“For parents of children with autism or other intellectual or developmental disabilities, air travel can prove to be particularly challenging, given the issues inherent in clearing security, the overwhelming noises, and harsh lights,” says The Arc Baltimore Executive Director Stephen H. Morgan.
“This program will not only help to alleviate some of the stress individuals may feel, but also help to educate airport and airline professionals about how best to serve children and adults with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities in the future,” Morgan explains.
He adds, “All of The Arc chapters throughout Maryland are very grateful to our partners on the ground at BWI – including airport staff, Southwest Airlines, TSA, and AIRMALL – all of whom are committed to making air travel possible for families with children with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Wings for Autism®, one of The Arc’s newest national initiatives, was founded by the Charles River Center, a local chapter of The Arc in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Port Authority.
“We’re honored to host Wings for Autism® at BWI Marshall,” says Ricky Smith, Chief Executive Officer of BWI Marshall Airport. “The program provides a level of experience and comfort for these families and children with autism and other disabilities. It literally opens a window to the world for them.”
About The Arc
The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of nearly 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.
About The Arc Baltimore
Dedicated to providing advocacy and high quality, life-changing supports since 1949 in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, The Arc Baltimore supports more than 6,000 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. As one of the nation’s largest and most respected organizations of its kind, The Arc Baltimore is an indispensable resource, providing employment training and support, day and residential services, family support and education, treatment foster care, respite care, public policy advocacy and information, and referrals. For more information, visit www.thearcbaltimore.org or call 410-296-2272.
- Media planning to cover the event on-site on December 5 are urged to provide name, date of birth, and driver’s license number no later than 2 p.m. on Friday, December 4 to email@example.com.
- Media will need a valid driver’s license or other form of identification in order to go through TSA security.
- Media are not permitted to film specific technology (x-ray monitors inside, etc.) or procedures at TSA security checkpoints.
- Media can park in the designated area behind BWI’s Hourly Garage. For more details, contact BWI Marshall Airport media relations, 410-859-7719.