Wings for Autism® Program Lands in Phoenix

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Tomorrow, The Arc will hold a Wings for Autism® event at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for the first time. This event is being held in partnership with American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and The Arc of Arizona.

Everyone deserves the chance to enjoy a vacation with their loved ones. Unfortunately, for many parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, air travel poses a number of seemingly insurmountable obstacles for their child.

Tomorrow, The Arc will hold a Wings for Autism® event at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for the first time. This event is being held in partnership with American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and The Arc of Arizona. Wings for Autism®, one of The Arc’s newest national initiatives, is an airport “rehearsal” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation professionals. Originated by the Charles River Center, a local chapter of The Arc in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Port Authority, Wings for Autism® is designed to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with autism experience when traveling by air. The program provides families with the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtain boarding passes, go through security, and board a plane.

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. This experience is equally useful for families that have a member with other intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) that are concerned about the ability of their family member to travel.

More than 90 families from the Phoenix area have signed up to benefit from this experience. Upon arrival, event attendees will check in to receive their boarding pass, go through security, and be greeted at the gate prior to boarding the plane. A small reception will be held afterwards.

The event will take place at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (Terminal 4, Gates A1-A3) on Friday, October 9. Media should arrive at A Checkpoint by 5:30pm to be escorted through security.

“We are honored to partner with American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and The Arc of Arizona to bring Wings for Autism to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport,” said Aviation Director Danny Murphy. “We look forward to welcoming children and their families as they take this opportunity to become more accustomed to the service we provide at America’s Friendliest Airport."

“Everyone deserves the chance to enjoy a vacation with their loved ones. Unfortunately, for many parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, air travel poses a number of seemingly insurmountable obstacles for their child. Wings for Autism is about showing families that air travel is not impossible by giving them a full airport run through. This remarkable opportunity would not be possible without our amazing partners at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and the Transportation Security Administration,” said Jon Meyers, Executive Director of The Arc of Arizona.

“We are excited to be hosting a Wings for Autism® event in Phoenix. For parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, everyday tasks can sometimes prove to be far more difficult for their child. Air travel can prove particularly challenging between clearing security, the overwhelming noises, and harsh lights. This program will not only alleviate the stress children and their parents may feel, but help educate airport and airline professionals about how best to serve children with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities in the future,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc - The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of 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.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

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Sarah Bal
The Arc of the United States
+1 (202) 600-3494
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