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LVIA to Host Wings For Autism Event

LVIA to Host Wings For Autism Event

May 6, 2015

Allentown, PA – On Saturday, May 9, 2015, The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties will present WINGS FOR AUTISM, a unique rehearsal event for people with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities to have a real-life experience using an airport when traveling by plane. The Arc has partnered with Lehigh Valley International Airport who will host the event, and Allegiant Air who will be providing a plane for participants to experience boarding, seating and exiting an air craft.

More than 78 pre-registered local people with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, along with family members, will begin arriving at Lehigh Valley International Airport at 8:00 AM, to check-in and begin their air travel rehearsal experience. The process will include proceeding to the ticketing counter, followed by security clearance, walking through the airport terminal, and finding a seat at the gate, where they will wait to board the aircraft. Allegiant Air will welcome each person with a disability, along with one family member to accompany them, onto the plane, and assist with finding their seat and buckling their seat belt. After everyone is seated, Allegiant Air personnel will instruct the participants on the plane about safety procedures associated with a flight. Finally, the participants will depart the aircraft and will be welcomed to a special reception, courtesy of Lehigh Valley International Airport.

“For families who have a member with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities, travelling can be a challenge, even if traveling by car,” said Karen Grady, Executive Director of The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties. “For most of these families, traveling by plane was not even considered, given the environmental, spatial, tactile and social challenges many individuals have. WINGS FOR AUTISM is a unique opportunity for families to have a real-life rehearsal experience that may allow them to work through anxieties and fulfill dreams of being able to visit grandma at Thanksgiving, or take a trip to Disney World.”

More than 40 volunteers will be on hand to assist the individuals and families successfully complete the experience, with helpful tips and suggestions they can use when traveling by air in the future. Lehigh Valley International Airport employees, along with staff and supporters of The Arc, will serve as volunteers.

“Waiting in line, being in close proximity to other people and experiencing the security clearance can be a challenge for anyone, but most especially for people with disabilities,” said Karen Grady. “The volunteers will be able to help families who may struggle through this rehearsal event with helpful advice that can make the difference for them having a successful flight in the future.”

WINGS FOR AUTISM is a trademarked event developed by The Arc of The United States, and has been successfully presented at a select few major hubs across the nation. The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties – the only local chapter of The Arc that will present a WINGS FOR AUTISM event in our entire region that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware states- will be among the select few local chapters of The Arc that will present WINGS FOR AUTISM in this second wave of airport events. The WINGS FOR AUTISM event that will take place on Saturday, May 9, hosted at Lehigh Valley International Airport, is the only such event that will take place in our region.

“We are very proud to have the opportunity to host this event”, said Lehigh Valley International Airport Executive Director, Charles Everett. “Our airport is a great facility for those that have added challenges while traveling, and we are more than willing to accommodate any passengers that may need additional assistance”.  For those travelers that may desire additional information, please call 610-266-6000.

LVIA is served by Allegiant Air, American, Delta and United with 9 nonstop destinations to both leisure destinations and major airline hubs with connections to the world. LVIA’s nonstop destinations include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Myrtle Beach (seasonal), Orlando, Punta Gorda and Tampa Bay.

Media interested in registering should contact Ashley Hari at [email protected]