Vista Del Mar Holds First Sensory-Friendly Festival for Kids with Special Needs

Vista Del Mar Holds First Sensory-Friendly Festival for Kids with Special Needs
Hundreds spend a fun-filled day at
Festival of Families event.
(WEST LOS ANGELES, Calif., May 23, 2012) -- Hundreds were on hand this past Saturday for Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services -- one of the Southland's leading providers of therapeutic and educational services for youngsters on the autism spectrum or with other special needs -- first ever Festival of Families.

The inaugural event featured both traditional carnival fare -- games, a rock wall, a Velcro wall, jousting, a petting zoo, and tasty treats -- as well as a sensory-friendly area for children with autism and other special needs. Here, in this festival within a festival, kids with special needs enjoyed activities geared to accommodate those with auditory, visual, taste/smell, movement, and touch sensitivities.  Sensory-friendly activities included: making super-sized bubbles with a giant wand; playing dress-up with an array of colorful costumes; having faces whimsically painted; and making arts-and-crafts projects.
Guests also were treated to musical performances by the Vista Inspire Program's Miracle Theatre, which is composed of children and teens with autism and other special needs. Many of the youngsters in attendance receive services through one of Vista's many programs for those with autism, developmental delays, and other special needs. In addition to the Vista Inspire Program, these services -- which are designed to help children develop motor, speech, language, and social skills while simultaneously instilling a sense of inclusion and self-worth -- include: Baron School for Exceptional Children (ages 3 through 9); Vista Hills Middle and High School; afterschool enrichment; summer day camp; and parent support groups.
Commenting on the extremely successful event, Vista Del Mar's President and CEO Elias Lefferman, Ph.D., said, "Kids with special needs -- like all youngsters -- deserve the opportunity to experience the simple joys of childhood, such as spending an afternoon at a neighborhood festival. That was the purpose of this event, and I think it was a very memorable day for everyone."
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Written by: Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services See other articles by Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services
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Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services was established in 1908 as a Jewish orphanage and, over the course of more than a century, has evolved from these roots into a union of five specialized agencies working together to provide comprehensive, therapeutic, as well as educational programs and services for children and their families on a picturesque, 18-acre campus in West Los Angeles.  These agencies include: Vista Del Mar; Julia Ann Singer Center; Reiss Davis Child Study Center; Home-SAFE (located in Hollywood); and Family Service of Santa Monica (located in Santa Monica).  Between the nonprofit's residential, outpatient, community-based, and education services, Vista Del Mar provides 45 programs to nearly 6,000 children and families annually.  Services provided by the agency include, but are not limited to: therapeutic, residential treatment for severely emotionally disturbed youth; private-adoption services for both domestic and international adoptions; a network of mental-health and case- management services for children at risk of out-of-home placement; a private, special-needs school (K-12); mental-health services to students in schools throughout Los Angeles; therapeutic school and intervention services for children with autism; individual and group counseling for children and families; educational assessments and treatment; child-abuse-prevention services; and early childhood care and provider training.  For additional information, visit

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