April is Autism Awareness Month and more than 100 people from four area counties attended the first annual Sensory Friendly Family Movie Day on April 2 at Celebration Cinema in Mount Pleasant; organized by the early childhood partners of the Clare-Gladwin and Gratiot-Isabella Great Start Collaboratives.
With the sound turned down and the lights turned up, Sensory Friendly Family Movie Day offered local families affected by autism the chance to spend a day at the theater while being free to walk around and talk as they wished. Sponsored in part by Early On, Clare County Youth Council, Clare-Gladwin RESD, MidMichigan Health, and the Michigan State Police, everyone in attendance received free admission, free popcorn, and a free beverage as they watched the movie, “Despicable Me.”
“Sensory Friendly Family Movie Day was a big success,” said Clare-Gladwin Great Start Collaborative Director Heather DuBois. “It was heartwarming to see so many families enjoying a morning at the movies together. Plus, the support from the organizations that made this event possible was a wonderful testament to our local communities’ commitment to Autism Awareness.”
Officers from the Michigan State Police, Mount Pleasant Police Department, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Police Department, and the Central Michigan University Police Department greeted families with a sticker and a smile as they arrived at the theater. “I believe that building relationships with families and children affected by autism is very important,” said Community Service Trooper Michael White of the Michigan State Police. “Participating in the Sensory Friendly Family Movie Day gave the children the chance to have a positive experience with the police in a fun, non-threatening environment.”
Students and their families wore blue to the event in honor of Autism Awareness Month, World Autism Day (April 2), and the global effort to help increase awareness about autism known as, “Light it Up Blue.”