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Winnipeg mother helps organize breakfast with sensory-friendly Santa

How a sensory friendly breakfast with Santa got its start
Arlene Reid tells Global News Morning how the Breakfast with Santa event got its start six years ago.

A Winnipeg mother is aiming to make it a little easier for all kids to experience a visit with Santa.

Two of Arlene Reid’s three children are on the Autism spectrum.

Reid started a special sensory-friendly breakfast with Santa six years ago, after seeing the difficulties her own children had being around the loud noise and crowds on a visit to see Old Saint Nick at the mall.

“The comments the other parents would make when my son had issues were heartbreaking,” Reid said.

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To help pay for the event, Reid and her friends decided to hold a fundraising breakfast.

READ MORE: Kildonan Place opens early to allow kids with special needs a visit with Santa

“We made pancakes and had about 70 people through friends of family of the Autism community. We just asked people to pay two or three dollars to help with costs,” she said.

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Reid said it was really important to her to give all kids a chance to visit Santa.

“They should be able to partake in all of the festivities and joys of the season,” Reid said.

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“It’s more heartbreaking for us parents because we see it happening where the kids are sometimes oblivious to it, but not always,” she added.

READ MORE: Silent Santa helps Saskatoon children with autism for holidays

Over the last six years, the event has seen dramatic growth.

It now has three sessions, with 300 kids expected to take part in this year’s breakfast with Santa Dec. 14. at the Elmwood East Kildonan Active Living Centre.

“It’s also open to the general public now, but there’s a note that this is a breakfast for kids with special needs, so I don’t want to hear any bashing about the behaviors of children,” said Reid.

Reid does this on her own time and out of her own pocketbook but notes she has great partners and local businesses helping to make it a lot easier.

Details on dates, times, and how to register can be found here.

WATCH: Breakfast with sensory-friendly Santa

Breakfast with sensory-friendly Santa
Breakfast with sensory-friendly Santa