Butterfly Wonderland, the largest butterfly conservatory in America, has partnered with Phoenix-based startup Pal Experiences to hosted an autism-friendly Sunday Funday on December 15th 2019, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. Almost 200 children and their families won free tickets to attend, with the majority having never attended Butterfly Wonderland before.
At the end of 2018, Butterfly Wonderland became a “Pal Place”, meaning they took steps to be more inclusive for visitors impacted by autism, anxiety, and other developmental disabilities. Together with Pal, they created a video social story showing guests what to expect, an interactive digital guide to assist with communication and navigation, as well as determined appropriate on-site accommodations.
“Butterfly Wonderland is a magical place that allows our guests to immerse themselves in a rainforest experience like no other,” said Adriane Grimaldi, Director of Education at Butterfly Wonderland. “Interacting with butterflies in their own environment, and learning about their journey, is inspiring for so many people, and we’re honored to partner with Pal to host these events along with the created resources to help families of all abilities attend, and then feel more supported while they’re here.”
“We believe in the power of connecting people to nature,” said Melanie Isaacs, Pal Founder and Chief Inclusion Officer. “Butterfly Wonderland is such an amazing place for people to make that connection, and we’re thrilled to help families of all abilities enjoy this local treasure.”
Last April, Butterfly Wonderland donated tickets and hosted their first autism-friendly event which was highly successful, welcoming families from all over the valley who had never been to the conservatory before. The tools themselves that are available are designed to support the 1 in 6 children in the US with developmental disabilities, including autism, and the Sunday Funday event is a great vehicle to get the resources in front of visitors. Plus, this further helps to combat the isolation that so many families with disabilities experience, which is one of the biggest growing epidemics in the world.
“We cannot wait to attend Butterfly Wonderland for the very first time,” says Hana Alanis, mother to a 10 year old son with a developmental disability. “At times it is hard to try new experiences because of the anxiety my son has, but we have watched the video to know what to expect and are so happy to receive the generously donated tickets from Butterfly Wonderland.”