Your View

Letter: Festival needs to offer better experience for special needs children


I am writing to express my deep concern about a recent incident that occurred at the Strawberry Festival, highlighting the urgent need for equality and respect for children with special needs. As the parent of a four-year-old child with Level 2 autism, I strongly believe that every child deserves to be treated with dignity and acceptance.

During our visit to the Strawberry Festival on Saturday, my son’s excitement turned into disappointment when he encountered disrespect from some of the festival’s staff. It saddened me to witness my son being treated differently solely because of his special needs. This incident emphasizes the challenges faced by children like him in our society.

Children with special needs should be embraced and included in community events. It is essential that we foster an environment that values their unique perspectives and abilities. By promoting understanding and empathy, we can ensure that all children have equal opportunities to participate in and enjoy such events.

I urge event organizers, staff and the wider community to take the following steps to address this issue:

1. Implement training programs that raise awareness about autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Educate staff, volunteers and vendors on effective communication strategies and how to provide inclusive experiences for children with special needs.

2. Establish sensory-friendly areas and activities at public events, allowing children with special needs to engage comfortably. Additionally, ensure physical accessibility to accommodate mobility devices.

Let us work together to create a society that celebrates the uniqueness of every child, irrespective of their abilities.

Ragan Branam