Special Kids Day
Rich and Barbara Rosenberg, owners of Elmhurst Photo Boutique in the western Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, hosted an event each year where children would meet Santa and get their picture taken with him. The Rosenbergs realized that children with special needs didn't attend, and they came to the conclusion that parking accessibility, stairs, and other barriers prevented the children from doing so. So, in 1990, they started Special Kids Day, a "special needs-friendly holiday event" where children with special needs could visit Santa Claus without the obstacles that they might find if they had to visit him at a mall.
The events are held on or around today's date at the Wilder Mansion in Elmhurst. The mansion has accessible parking, ramps and elevators, and a quiet room for overstimulated kids. About fifteen kids attended the first year, but it kept growing to become an event attended by 500 to 600 kids annually, and local businesses, community organizations, Elmhurst College's Department of Education, and others have joined in supporting the day. Not only can kids get their picture with Santa, but music, face painting, balloon artists, and magicians are also regularly part of the day. Children of all ages and their families are welcome. Special Kids Day is not only an event or day but a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides other celebratory events for children with special needs in environments that accommodate them.
How to Observe Special Kids Day
Attend the official Special Kids Day event in Elmhurst, Illinois, which may be today or on a nearby date. Check the Special Kids Day Facebook page for more up-to-date information. If you don't live in Illinois, get involved by donating or hosting your own event.