Sensory Santa share joy of Christmas

Monday, 11 December 2023

University of Galway
Tommy Donohue and his father Alan from Ballybrit, Galway visit the Sensory Santa event at University of Galway which offers children with additional needs, and their families, a free opportunity to enjoy a visit to Father Christmas at a specially created grotto, organised and managed by staff, students and graduates of the University’s School of Psychology.

More than 60 families of children with additional needs have been given a unique opportunity to enjoy the joy of Christmas with a special visit to Sensory Santa.

The event at University of Galway, which began life in 2017, offering a day-trip to a sensory-friendly grotto has grown this year to run over two days. 

Students and staff from the University’s School of Psychology have come together taking on the roles of elves and Santa’s helpers, while a number of local and national businesses offered their support for the project.

Dr Ciara Gunning, School of Psychology, University of Galway, said: “Our Sensory Friendly Santa’s Grotto gives children with additional needs and their families an opportunity to visit Santa in their own time and in their own way. Over 60 families attended events this weekend and for many of them it is the first time that they would have had a chance to visit Santa. Our Santa, our elves, our helpers make this what it is and by checking in with our families in advance and making some small tweaks to the grotto set-up and sensory-friendly environment, our team can create an accessible and inclusive event - making real life magic. A huge credit goes to all those who volunteer – our staff and students at the School of Psychology, and this year the support from businesses has been immense and it has made such a phenomenal difference to the days.”

Sensory Santa at University of Galway was supported this year by a number of local and national businesses including Smyth’s; Supermacs; Dough Bros; McD’s; 56 Central; Connacht Hospitality Group; Centra; Lidl; Gourmet Tart; Galway Bay Hotel; Revive Active; Dunnes Stores; Name It.

This year the organisers were also able to support a new Sensory Santa and grotto event for 20 families in Belmullet, Co Mayo. Businesses in Mayo supporting the event included Erris Arts Centre; O’Donoghue’s Bakery; Mayo North East; Western Strands; Lir beauty Rooms; Malone Welfare Unit hire; Beautified Beauty Salon; Toymaster Ballina; The Cake Queen; Hegarty’s Gift Shop; Happy Souls Reflexology.

Ends 

Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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