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Wings for Autism Lands in Greenville-Spartanburg

Wings for Autism® Lands in Greenville-Spartanburg

Greer, SC – On April 29 at 3:30 pm, The Arc of the United States will hold a Wings for All® event at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) for the first time in the program’s history. The Arc of South Carolina, in partnership with GSP, Delta, TSA, the South Carolina Autism Society, Agapi Behavioral Consultants, Project Hope Foundation, and Thrive Upstate, and is sponsored by the South Carolina Physicians Care Charity, the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, and ASE Advisory Group.

Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® 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®/Wings for All® was created 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®/Wings for All® 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 100 participants from the Greenville/Spartanburg area are expected to attend the event.  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.

MEDIA RSVP REQUIRED:

Provide full name (as it appears on government-issued I.D.) and date of birth to Susan Leiby no later than 12 p.m. on April 27. Media is required to bring government issued I.D. and to follow TSA guidelines for other items, as participants will be clearing security to cover this event. Non

RSVP media coverage cannot be accommodated on the day of the event. For questions, call Susan Leiby at 864-517-0501 or contact SusanL@scautism.org.

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"Wings for All® is a unique opportunity for families of people with disabilities to get to experience the airport process in a controlled setting, as these families oftentimes don't travel for fear of a negative reaction. We are so thankful for this partnership with GSP and Delta, and we hope to continue these collaborations in the future to bring this opportunity to more airports, giving more people the chance to experience this event." - Megan Galloway, The Arc of South Carolina

"New situations can be extremely difficult for individuals with autism, and flying on a plane is no different.  The sights, sounds, and crowds, along with no way to escape these inputs makes traveling by plane out of reach for many of these families.  As a result, they may miss out on opportunities to make memories in distant locations.  By opening the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport to Wings for Autism, we are opening the door to a world of possibilities for autism families.  The South Carolina Autism Society is proud to be a continuing partner of this program." - Kim Thomas, President & CEO, South Carolina Autism Society

“Making GSP totally accessible to all who wish to fly out of our airport is very important to us.  We are especially pleased to be joining so many community partners as well our airport partners, Delta Airlines and TSA, to make Wings For All/Autism a success,” - Dave Edwards, President/CEO GSP Airport District.

 “Agapi Behavioral Consultants is honored to be partnering with Wings for All for this event. A new environment, such as the airport, with different lights, sounds, smells and people can be extremely overwhelming for our children. Being able to experience a trial run at the airport assists in preparing families for a trip that they may have been putting off. Preparing our children for these new situations assists in ensuring a successful and enjoyable travel experience in the future.” -- Nina Bourret, Executive Director/ Co-Founder, Agapi Behavioral Consultants

"Through our ABA therapy program, we are often asked to help families prepare their children with autism for air travel.  To have the chance to do a "trial run" in the actual environment is priceless!" – Lisa Lane, Executive Director, Project Hope Foundation

“We are excited to be expanding the Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® program to Greenville. For parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, 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,” -- 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 more than 650 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.