Nearly everyone reading this has a friend, family member, or loved one who is touched by or is a part of the Special Needs community. We can all empathize with the extraordinary level of energy and care it takes to produce a high level quality of life for these individuals. Those unspoken heroes among us who work with the physically and mentally challenged also know that having the opportunity to make a difference, and doing so, is one of the most selfless and rewarding experiences in life. The reality is, it’s often very challenging to find venues and programming that specialize in providing the unique experience necessary for a safe and enjoyable evening for individuals with special needs – Or, it used to be… On March 1st, Sahara Sam’s Oasis hosted their latest and most successful Special Needs Evening at the water park. The Special Needs Evenings, also known as “S.E.A.S.” (Special Evenings at Sam’s), provide judgment-free, exclusive evenings designed specifically for individuals with special needs to enjoy with their family and friends.
Our Community Programs Director, Katie, talks a little bit about why S.E.A.S. events are so successful:
“When we say exclusive, we really mean exclusive. The water park is closed to the general public for the day and we make sure to monitor the admissions tickets that are bought online, this way we avoid crowds which can cause anxiety. Tickets prices are extremely low, we just want to be sure we can cover the overhead and labor expense. Swimmers are just $15 dollars (versus our typical $32.95 general admission ticket). As far as creating a safe, enjoyable, judgment-free evening goes, we modify the lighting and sounds around the water park. This means that the arcade games are turned off to accommodate those who are sensitive to sensory stimuli and our lifeguards use their whistles only if absolutely necessarily. We also have a quiet room available if the fun becomes too much. Additionally, we accommodate those special dietary needs by allowing guests who attends our S.E.A.S. events to bring in their own snacks – as long as they don’t contain peanut butter or nut products to accommodate those with food allergies. Along the same lines, T-Shirts and shorts are OK too to wear in the park as we understand swimming suits can be irritating for some individuals. We just want everyone to be comfortable and we wanted to provide an evening for those with special needs to enjoy with their family and friends without having to worry.”