Sensory theater gives movie experience to kids with special needs

Sensory theater opens for kids with special needs

On a hot summer day with kids out of school, plenty of parents like to take their kids to the movie theater, but that's not always a possibility for all families.

"Going to the movies, just like anything else, can be extremely challenging, especially when you have children that have complex medical needs cause a lot of times it requires you to bring medical equipment with you. You worry that your child is going to become agitated or anxious, or sometimes make noises that can typically bother other people around you, but when you come to an even like this, everybody is in that situation," said Laura Romero.

Romero’s 11-year-old daughter Brooklyn has complex medical needs.

They are among the families who went to Flix Brewhouse on Tuesday as part of the event put on by Casey’s Circle.

The organization rented a theater, allowing the lights to be brighter and the sound to be softer.

Wendy Buxton and her 14-year-old daughter Marion were excited to be there.

"We wanted to be able to take our daughter to the movie, in an environment where she didn't have to worry about what she does, or what sounds she makes, she can enjoy it and just be herself,” said Buxton. "We wanted to see a movie that was fun, but was also accommodating to her."

For many, this is the first time they're seeing a movie on the big screen.

"It does allow us to get out into the community, and to participate in things any other typically developing child would. It gives our kids opportunities to experience the joys in life," said Romero.

She said Brooklyn is a typical 11-year-old and getting ready to go to middle school.

"She loves music, she loves being read to, she loves fashion, she loves to dress up, loves to pick out her clothes, you know the typical things that any other 11-year-old would love,” said Romero.

And seeing a movie is something an 11-year-old would do.

"In everything that we do, our main goal is to give Brooklyn every opportunity that any other child would have, and so events like this allow us to get her out into the community, to socialize, and to do the things that typical developing children have the opportunity to do,” said Romero.

Buxton said seeing a movie helps bridge a gap between her daughter and other children.

"Going to see a movie is just part of our society, like you want to see a movie, experience, kids love to talk about movies, they talk about their favorite movies, their favorite character,” said Buxton.

"There's a lot of things that people just take for granted- going to the movies, going to the park, going for a walk, these are all things that anybody thinks everybody can do but when you've got all this equipment, and all these noises and everything that goes with it, something as simple as going to a movie is huge,” said Marty Barnes.

Barnes knows what these families go through first-hand.

"These the kids that don't usually get to go to the movies, they have lots of loud equipment, they need to take up four seats, you know, with special wheelchairs, and they have an entourage of nurses and therapists and so it gets really expensive to take everybody to the movie," said Marty Barnes.

Her daughter Casey suffered from Cerebral Palsy, seizures, and a loss of vision and hearing ---- all after a brain injury at birth.

Casey died at just 9-years-old.

But her spirit lives on through Casey's Circle by putting on events like this one.

"Casey's Circle is all about making sure that families get to have experiences with their kids that are about being kids and families, and not just about being medical and patients,” said Barnes.

Casey loved movies and back in 2010, she was part of KVUE's 60 wishes in 60 days.

"Casey's wish was to rent out an entire theater and go to the movies, she got to invite all of her friends and family, and as luck would have it, the movie that we saw was the first 'Despicable Me,'” said Barnes.

Now, because of Casey's Circle these kids, many of whom were friends with Casey, are getting to see "Despicable Me 3."

"You really feel like you can come and just be a family, it gives families an opportunity to come and do something in a relaxed easy environment,” said Romero.

"I'm so excited that we get to be part of that amazing memory for these families,” said Barnes.

If you want to donate or volunteer for Casey’s Circle, click on their website here.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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