Sitting for the annual Santa photo is a truly memorable and special tradition for many Australian families. However, the music, lights, queues of people and general excitement that comes with this much-loved tradition can often leave children with sensory processing challenges and their families feeling overwhelmed and reluctant to take part.
Recognising the need to curate a unique and tailored experience for children with sensory processing challenges, this year all Westfield centres are offering Sensitive Santa photo sessions that will run both before and after opening hours, extending the magical experience of Santa to more families.
Westfield Sensitive Santa sessions allow for people who need more time with Santa and takes place with subdued lighting, no crowds and no background music.
“Sensitive Santa was initially introduced at Westfield Woden in response to a customer request, and the response in the community was overwhelmingly positive,” said Phil McAveety, Scentre Group Director, Customer Experience. “We want to ensure special festive moments such as meeting Santa are accessible to all our customers, so we’re pleased we can announce Sensitive Santa photography will be available at all Westfield Centres nationally this year.”
“The idea of taking Claire to a shopping centre for a Santa photo is really daunting to me, she might get really overwhelmed, so the idea of it being outside usual shopping hours when the crowds are gone really excited me.” says Amanda in the documentary. “Watching Claire and seeing her hands go up when she met Santa... that’s going to stay with me all year.”
These calm and comfortable photography sessions create a relaxed and sensory-friendly Santa experience tailored to children with sensitive processing challenges, anxiety or disabilities. With a booked time slot and no need to wait in the queue, families can take their time with Santa and helpers are on hand to accommodate any special requests as best they can.