‘Wings for All’ travel rehearsal program aims to make flying easy

Good Day Dakota

If you could alleviate any fear or stress of flying, would you do it? What about for your kids?

There will be an opportunity to do exactly that coming up this weekend at the Minot International Airport.

Thanks to The Arc of the United States, Minot Area Parent Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Delta Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Minot International Airport, the Wings for All program will take place at the airport this Saturday, May 11.

It focuses on helping people who face unique challenges in trying to navigate a trip through the airport.

There are many moving parts in order to get on board a plane and fly to a destination, lots of plans to make and steps to take.

For many – and especially those with intellectual or developmental disabilities – it can be a scary, intimidating experience.

That’s where Wings for All comes in.

“Just to get everybody familiar with what you can expect, what you need to do, from step A to step Z so to speak,” Airport Services Coordinator, Maria Romanick said.

The free program allows participants to go through the motions of traveling.

“We want travel to be something everybody can do,” Romanick added.

Checking in, riding an escalator, going through TSA security and waiting at the gate — pretty much every step of the way.

“This can oftentimes be the first kind of eye-opener,” she said. “Is this something that our family can handle? Is it this something that our child can handle?'”

Donna Bye initiated bringing Wings for All to Minot. Her 12-year-old daughter has Autism.

“We have not been able to take a family vacation for anxiety fears that we have as parents,” she said. “How will she react, how will the people around us react? How will the airlines react?”

Wings for All is designed for people like Donna and her family to get a safe and realistic travel experience. It also aims to open doors for future travel opportunities.

“Our daughter does not like to wait,” Bye explained. “She’s also very sensitive to overhead speakers, so we think about when they announce all the safety instructions overhead. Those noises tend to bother her.”

Participants will really get to experience all aspects of traveling by air. Including walking down the jet bridge and actually boarding the plane.
So when the real thing happens, travelers feel more familiar than fearful.

The program is free – but for security and organization purposes – registration will close at the end of the day Thursday, May 9.

Please visit thearc.org/wings or e-mail Donna at donnajbye@gmail.com to register as soon as possible.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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