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Kelowna  

A unique experience at YLW

Chantelle Deacon

Okanagan families with kids who have autism had the chance to experience the entire pre-boarding and boarding process on Sunday.

Canucks Autism Network and Kelowna International Airport (YLW) hosted their second annual YLW Accessibility Tour for families living with autism.

"We've invited them here to do a trial run for them and their families, to give them the freedom to fly," said Sam Samaddar, airport director, YLW. "The kids have different sensory issues and parents are actually afraid to bring their kids to an airport to actually get them to fly."

"This allows the parents, with their children, to go through the full process."

The tour took families through the pre-flight process, including check-in, security, finding their gate and boarding a plane.

"This actually helps our staff as well because as they go through working with the kids and their families they learn as well," Samaddar said.
 
Families also received resource kits with tools to better prepare for air travel, including an activity storybook, step-by-step checklist, tips for travel and an airport map.
 
“We are thrilled to build off the success of last year’s inaugural Accessibility Tour at YLW,” said Katy Harandi, CAN’s President and chief executive officer. “By making air travel more accessible, individuals and families living with autism can experience a new world of possibilities.”

For many of the families in attendance the tour could be a life changing experience.

"We'd love to be able to go to Disneyland," said Charity Hutchinson, mother of two autistic sons.
 
Originally developed with Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in 2014, CAN successfully launched the program at YLW in last year.



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