Anne Carlsen Center Gives Kids a Unique Holiday Celebration

This is the first time the Moorhead location has hosted the event

MOORHEAD, Minn. — Opening in Moorhead four months ago, the Anne Carlsen Center provides opportunities for kids with developmental disabilities.

One way they plan on making the holidays an inclusive experience for everyone is by calling in a friend from the North Pole.

But unlike most meet–and–greets with Kris Kringle, there are no long lines.

“The mall atmosphere, the bustle of the holiday season could be so overwhelming for some, and so our ‘Sensory Santa’ event allows for a calm environment where we can follow the child’s lead and let them experience Santa in a way that’s meaningful to them,” said Stephanie Nelson, the Chief Operating Officer of the Anne Carlsen Center.

Some parents, like Sheila Jordan, say the quieter atmosphere makes it easy for their kids to connect with Santa.

“A lot of times, the anxiety, he gets overwhelmed because there’s too much going on, and so it’s really nice to have that so he can still have those experiences and not have it be something where we have a meltdown,” Jordan said.

Even the big guy in red hat says a little less noise is music to his ears.

His day job is as a State Senator representing Fargo for the last thirty years, but Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) says he’s not the only one doing his part to make the day more memorable.

“There are other people here in the work–a–day world each day, serving children and making their lives better. So it gives me a lot of excitement to know while I’m working, someone else is working to make childrens’ lives better,” said Sen. Mathern.

Kids also had the chance to make holiday bags and picture frames before they met Santa.

“They’re really enjoying it and it’s nice to do something like this as a family. There’s not a cost, and to be able to have just a nice, small place for kiddos with special needs but that the whole family can come too, and it’s not secluding the rest of the family away,” Jordan said.

The Anne Carlsen Center also hosted a “Sensory Santa” event in Grand Forks Saturday in collaboration with UND.

They are hosting another next Saturday, December 15 in Jamestown.

Categories: Community, Local News, Minnesota News

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