LANSING, Mich.— The Greater Lansing region prides itself on being a welcoming community and it is our goal to provide the best experience to all guests that visit. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Therefore, in 2017 the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau began a collaboration with regional attractions to provide a supportive and welcoming environment for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental disabilities, sensory processing disorder, and other neuro-diverse individuals and their families. Multiple attractions joined the partnership including: Impression 5 Science Center, MSU’s Abrams Planetarium, MSU Museum, Potter Park Zoo, Michigan History Center, State Capitol Building, Lansing Art Gallery, Lansing Lugnuts, Preuss Pets and the Wharton Center for Performing Arts.
Additionally, the GLCVB partnered with the Mid-Michigan Autism Association (MMAA), Residential Options, Inc. (ROI) and Michigan State University (MSU) to facilitate local trainings about ASD for front line hospitality staff, in order to further enhance the visitor experience for people on the autism spectrum and their families. Over 800 individuals have undergone the training to better meet the needs of our neuro-diverse guests.
“The Greater Lansing community takes great pride in having numerous offerings tailored to the growing number of neuro-diverse guests and their families,” said Julie Pingston, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “It is our hope to continue to develop and conduct ASD training for our hospitality partners and encourage sensory-friendly activities by our attractions. We’re very proud this groundbreaking program will be recognized with a Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration at the 2019 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism on March 6.”
This award was created by the Michigan Travel Commission, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office, to elevate the status of Michigan’s tourism industry and to promote innovative collaboration as an effective, efficient and creative operating principle for the industry. Greater Lansing’s Sensory Friendly Collaboration won the award in the Tourism Experience Development category for the way it has enabled guests on the spectrum to be able to find a welcoming destination and, in many cases, experience travel for the first time.
The Greater Lansing community will be celebrating Autism Awareness Month this April with the following sensory-friendly activities as well as a robust calendar of sensory-friendly programming throughout the year.
April 6 – Sensory Friendly Show of Dumbo at NCG Cinema
April 6 – Sensory Friendly Show of Dumbo at Celebration Cinema
April 13 – Autism Friendly event at Jumpin’ Jax hosted by Comprehensive Early Autism Services
April 19 – Sensory-Friendly hours at Impression 5 Science Center (5:30-7:30 p.m.)
April 21 – Sensory-Friendly show at Abrams Planetarium (11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.)
April 27 – FALCONERS program at Potter Park Zoo
April 28 – Junie B. Jones at Wharton Center for Performing Arts (1:30 p.m.)
For a complete schedule of ongoing events and more information about the GLCVB and the Sensory-Friendly Programming Initiative visit https://www.lansing.org/things-to-do/sensoryfriendly/.
** PHOTO ATTACHMENT -- Pictured is (Left to Right) Kelly Stuible-Clark with the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Julie Pingston with the Greater Lansing CVB and Catherine Blatnik with the Mid-Michigan Autism Association accepting the Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration at the 2019 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
The mission of the GLCVB is to promote the region as a visitor destination to impact the area’s economy.