As April continues National Autism Awareness Month, big news was made in the Greater Pittsburgh area as world known amusement park, Kennywood, has officially announced its official certification as an autism center.
With thousands of visitors from around the world visiting Kennywood every year, park officials told 12 News the main mission is to make sure that all visitors feel welcomed. Including those with Autism.
“We know that more people with autism are trying to travel and we know the hardships behind that and we wanted to help them as much as we could.” said Marie Ruby, Kennywood director of ride operations.
In order to properly help guest. All employees of the park received specialized training given by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (I.B.C.C.E.S) to ensure each worker had various traits needed to cater to all children and adults, including those with special needs.
“Kennywood is that same as it always was. It’s still an enjoyable place for everybody to come. Nothings really changed on the surface, we just want to make sure that those with autism are welcomed here and our team knows how to serve them better.” Ruby said.
With focused training on a variety of topics including sensory awareness, program development, social skills and other key points, the park will also provide additional helping aides like quiet spaces and rooms for decompressing, sensory bags, noise-canceling headphones, sensory guide layouts of the park and more.
Director of Public Relations, Nick Paradise confirmed that as the local population slowly declines, it is important to cater to surrounding areas and make all guests feel welcomed regardless of needs.
“It’s absolutely very important to us to bring in visitors from the outer markets. We call it West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland especially. Those are some of the big markets for us in opportunities. Pittsburgh as a whole, the population is declining a little bit and so for us to continue to grow at Kennywood, we want to bring in people from outside of that area and that is a big part of when you see us adding new attractions like Thomas Town last year, the Steel Curtain and Steelers Country this year and the certified autism center recognition – all of that is really important to make us attractive to visitors from West Virginia.” Paradise said.
“Our goal was definitely just to invite everybody to have an enjoyable time. We didn’t want to miss any segment of the population and we felt that we could better serve the autism community by going through this training and getting the sensory guide so that we can help them enjoy their day too. We don’t want to exclude them we want to include them,” said Ruby.
For more information on what is offered, click learn about Kennywood’s Certified Austism Center.