December 14, 2019

SpookFest

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A Very Special Cayman Islands SpookFest 2017

From TAB

We are looking forward to celebrating the second annual SpookFest event at this year!

We would like to raise an important issue that has been brought to our attention by Dr. , from Theraplay, and the Special Needs Foundation.

Too often, special needs children are excluded from community events like this due to their disabilities or differences.

We have come to learn that many times special needs families are not able to fully participate in special events like this, due to anxiety issues experienced by children when in large crowds, or long line ups.

DMS and Pedro Castle will be opening their gates 30mins earlier this year at SpookFest, to allow these children to have time to play and interact in a comfortable environment.

It is an issue that is very dear to our hearts, and we hope that you will help us bring it to light, and that together as a community, we can move toward greater inclusion for special needs children.

Ms. Shan Harriman

Ms. Shan is a parent of a special needs child, and will be able to provide some commentary on the importance of including special needs children in community events, as well as some of the difficulties she faces.

This is particularly important around Halloween, Christmas and Easter time.

I have included some quotes from Dr. Mona Kazemi in the press release that follows, and attached are some photos from last year.

Please help us share this cause, and spread the light of love, laughter and community spirit 😊

We hope to see you at SpookFest this year!

PRESS RELEASE

Second Annual SpookFest to take place at Pedro Castle!

[Savannah, Grand Cayman, October 18, 2017 – The spookfully fun SpookFest is back at Pedro Castle for its second year, on Saturday October 28, from 11am – 3pm. All little ghosts, ghouls and goblins are invited out to the castle for a day of scare. And of course, lots of chocolate!

The annual family event will be hosted by DMS Broadcasting and the . More than 4,000 pieces of Hershey’s candy will be up for grabs throughout the day, as well as an array of spooky games, activities, a craft-making station hosted by the , a ghost story corner, a Haunted House, face painting, bouncy castles and many more tricks and treats!

This year, the organisers will be opening up slightly earlier for families with special needs children. Dr. Mona Kazemi, Clinical Director and Occupational Therapist of Theraplay, voiced the need for more inclusion of children with special needs at community events:

“Our community goals this year includes helping families who have children with different needs to have more accessibility to community events. Families can feel uncomfortable taking their children to community events because they feel like their child may be misunderstood if they are unable to speak, use eye contact, navigate the environment as expected, or engage in activities as expected. A lot times, children with differences have difficulties in sensory processing that can make community events trigger a meltdown due to being overwhelmed by crowds of people or loud noises.

Our purpose for requesting Spookfest to be opened earlier specifically for families with children with special needs is to ensure they feel welcomed and know that persons working at the event will be understanding of their child.

I truly believe that families with special needs children will be beyond grateful for this step towards inclusivity. – Dr. Mona Kazemi, Clinical Director and Occupational Therapist at Theraplay.

“One of the main goals at the TAB, is to ensure our national attractions are accessible to our youth, and to encourage children of all ages and abilities to interact with our local culture and heritage, and to be proud of it.

SpookFest enables us to bring history to life for the day, and allows children to connect with the attraction; building fond memories of the sea views, playing with friends, trick or treating, making crafts or exploring the haunted house. It’s a truly Caymanian Halloween experience, and we are delighted that special needs families can be a part of that this year.” – Shayma Hamdi- Romanica, Marketing Coordinator, Tourism Attraction Board.

“We are grateful that Dr. Mona Kazemi raised this issue with us, as it too often slips our minds. We hope that the exposure raised from SpookFest will encourage other event organisers to include special needs children in their itineraries, particularly on holidays such as Christmas, Halloween, and Easter”. – Mr. Patrick Thompson, Director, Tourism Attraction Board.

SpookFest will open its gates at 10:30AM for special needs families. If you have a special needs child and would like to join other families for a sneak peak of SpookFest, please email [email protected], [email protected], or call 936-0193 or 927-4070.

The event is hosted by DMS Broadcasting, and the Tourism Attraction Board. It is sponsored by Hershey’s, Progressive Distributors, It’s Your Party, the Visual Arts Society, and Wok n Roll.

The event would not be possible without these wonderful sponsors!

### If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Dr. Mona Kazemi at
[email protected], or call 345-749-PLAY (7529).

Photos:
– Carlo Lee

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