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Towne West Square to host pics with Santa for special-needs kids

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at 10:29 p.m.

Towne West Square has been selected by its corporate owner, Simon Malls, to participate in Caring Santa, an event for special-needs children, who are being invited to have their picture taken with Santa before regular mall hours on Sunday.

This is the first year Towne West has participated in the event.

“We were so excited to be able to do it,” said Jody Karlin, director of marketing for Towne West.

“It’s something Wichita hasn’t provided, and this opportunity is something that is oftentimes overlooked for children with special needs. It’s just as important for them as other kids.”

The mall has reached out to different organizations in town that provide services for children with special needs, but individual families can also attend.

Children who participate will be able to have their picture taken with Santa.

The organizers also will have books, called social stories, available for kids to read before they get their picture taken so they can prepare for the picture and know what’s going to happen.

The mall’s music will be turned down so it’s less distracting, Karlin said, and the mall scheduled the event before regular hours so the children will not have to deal with crowds.

“We just want to have a more calm environment,” Karlin said.

The cost to have pictures taken is the regular rate for photos with Santa, which starts at about $12 and goes up, depending on the package, Karlin said.

The Caring Santa event was pitched to Simon Malls by Noerr Programs, the company that does Simon’s Santa photos.

In 2011, five malls owned by the Indianapolis-based company participated in Caring Santa. This year, more than 70 malls will, according to Ability Path, an organization that has teamed up with Noerr for the event.

Caring Santa will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Sunday at Towne West Square, 4600 West Kellogg.

To RSVP for the event, go to www.abilitypath.org

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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