Officials with the Pennsylvania theme park announced on Monday that staff have already completed training to accommodate children with special needs
Sesame Place in Pennsylvania is the first amusement park in the world to become a designated autism center, officials announced on Monday.
Officials with the Langhorne theme park teamed up with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards to achieve the special certification, according to the park’s site. Now, as the park gears up for its 38th season beginning on April 28, staff members have already completed training in emotional awareness, motor skills, sensitivity and more, according to NBC 10.
“It’s our goal to provide every family with an enjoyable and memorable visit, and we are proud to offer specialized services to guests with autism and other special needs,” officials wrote in a Facebook post to announce the certification.
Along with the training and a new Ride Accessibility Program, the park now houses two “quiet rooms,” both are located near Big Bird’s Rambling River — “These rooms have adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break,” officials said on the park’s site.
The park also offers low sensory areas, noise-cancelling headphones and officials have developed a pre-visit sensory guide to help families plan activities that suits their child’s needs.
“She is going to be so powerful on two fronts,” Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, told PEOPLE of Julia last year. “It will help kids with autism be able to identify with a character and it will also play an important role in destigmatizing autism.
“We want to reach all children in terms of giving them greater empathy and to talk about and increase awareness and understanding.”
Julia was introduced in 2016 as a digital character in Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children global initiative for communities and families with children ages 2 to 5.
“We just had to bring her to life,” says Westin. “She was created as a positive response from the autism community.”
Now, officials with the theme park say they are happy to be setting an example.
“Sesame Place is honored to be leading the theme park industry through our commitment to making our facility friendly for families with children on the spectrum,”Sesame Place President Cathy Valeriano said in a statement, according to NBC.