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GSP to offer rehearsal to help children with sensory issues be at ease during flight travel

Families of children with sensory processing issues have a chance to participate in a free dress rehearsal for air travel at Wings for All to be held May 18 at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP).

The event is a partnership between GSP and The Arc of South Carolina, a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Breanna Neely, Project Director at The Arc of South Carolina, said the program is nationwide and includes people with any sensory processing disorder. Participating in the event can make an enormous difference for families who have been unable to travel.

“I personally know some families who are not able to travel,” Neely said. “Their child can’t handle the lights and sounds and all the things that go along with air travel.”

The event was held at GSP two years ago and was a big success, Neely said.

Kim Davis, Customer Service and Community Relations Manager at GSP, learned of the program at a conference years ago. She has seen the struggles some families face at the airport. Wings for All, which also includes the support of Delta Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, the GSP Airport Police and more, gives families a safe place to practice.

“We love every member of the community and we are so excited to be able to do this,” Davis said. “We hope this is the second of many Wings for All events to come.”

Davis said the event also helps those who work at the airport to know how to make air travel a better experience for those with sensory processing disorders.

Families must register in advance. There are no exceptions to this, due to security restrictions. It is free and parking will be validated. The event begins at 3:30 p.m. May 18 and includes a reception with snacks, followed by a practice of everything that leads up to a flight. Families are asked to bring luggage so they can practice checking bags. Participants will board a plane and taxi the runway beginning at 6 p.m. The plane will not take off.

“After our last event, we had so many parents saying, ‘You don’t know how this has changed our lives,’” Davis said.  

Register for Wings for All at Registration is required for every participant. Once capacity is reached, a waiting list will be started, so families are encouraged to register as soon as possible.