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Wings for Autism® Program Lands at PTI

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Greensboro, NC – On Oct. 29, The Arc will hold its 3rd annual Wings for Autism® event at Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO). This event is being held in partnership with Delta Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), The Arc of Greensboro, The Arc of High Point, The Arc of Davidson County, The Enrichment Center (an Affiliated Chapter of The Arc), and The Autism Society of North Carolina and Autism Unbound. Wings for Autism® one of The Arc’s newest national initiatives, is an airport “rehearsal” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation professionals. Wings for Autism® is designed to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with autism spectrum disorders experience when traveling by air. The program provides families the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtain boarding passes, go through security, and board a plane.

Wings for Autism® 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.

Families from the Piedmont Triad signed up for this experience beginning Sept. 12 at http://www.thearc.org/wingsforautism .   The planed was filled in two days. This is an experience that families seek out in order to practice before they travel. This year we have 189 participants. Participants can check-in at 9:00 am and boarding will begin at 11:00pm. The plane will taxi around the airport.

Piedmont Triad International Airport is proud to be a partner in this event,” said Stephanie Freeman, the GSO’s Manager of Marketing. “The program benefits the families, but it also provides valuable training for airport employees in how to accommodate passengers with special needs. Our goal is for all of our passengers to have a positive travel experience.”

“At Delta, one of our strongly-held core values is giving back to the communities we’re privileged to serve. The Delta team at Piedmont Triad International is pleased to support this effort to familiarize the airport experience to these children and their families,” said Bryan Street, Delta Station Manager for GSO.

 “Traveling can be such a wonderful experience but for many families traveling is very stressful.  The Arc of Greensboro is thrilled to be a partner in bringing the first “Wings for Autism” to NC.  We are grateful to Delta Airlines and PTI for providing this wonderful opportunity for our Piedmont Triad families.  This will be an exciting and memorable day for the families, the staff and volunteers of all participating partners in this unique event,” said Linda Yurko, Executive Director of The Arc of Greensboro.

“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to practice traveling by plane. I have two children with autism and when they were young we had difficulty with loud noises, tight or close seats and the long waiting times. We have not flown as a family for the past 15 years. We drive everywhere we go. I am hoping that this experience may allow us try again and hopefully open up travel opportunities for both of my children,” said Stephanie Antkowiak, Director of The Arc of High Point and her husband Steve Antkowiak.

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 700 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.

Video of the first year event https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC05gRcyqCHujzb5sqeWVmbg/videos

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