Wings for Autism Lands in Mobile Regional Airport
On March 11, 2017, the Arc of the United States will hold a Wings for Autism® event at Mobile Regional Airport (MOB). This event is being held in partnership with The Arc of Clarke County, American Airlines and its regional partners Mesa Airlines and PSA Airlines, Autism Society of Alabama, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Doug Flutie Foundation. Wings for Autism® one of The Arc’s newest national initiatives, is an airport “rehearsal” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation professionals. Originated by the Charles River Center, a local chapter of The Arc in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Port Authority, Wings for Autism® is designed to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with autism experience when traveling by air. The program provides families with the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtain boarding passes, go through security, and board a plane.
Wings for Autism® also gives airport, airline, TSA professionals and other personnel the opportunity to observe, interact and deliver their services in a structured, learning environment. This experience is equally useful for families that have a member with other intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) that are concerned about the ability of their family member to travel.
Over 100 participants from the Mobile area have signed up to benefit from this experience. Upon arrival, event attendees will check in to receive their boarding pass, go through security, and be greeted at the gate prior to boarding the plane.
“The Mobile Airport Authority is proud to host Wings for Autism for the second consecutive year,” stated Mark McVay, Interim Executive Director of the Mobile Airport Authority. “This is a valuable and rewarding learning experience for our staff and everyone involved. We received very positive comments from last year’s participants, and we’re happy to see over 100 participants have signed up for this year’s event. We’re honored along with our airline partners, and volunteers to host this important program for the Mobile community,” continued Mr. McVay.
"Our passenger support specialists understand that there is a lot for these young travelers to experience and absorb while traveling through an airport,” said Gail Linkins, TSA Federal Security Director for the State of Alabama. "It is really satisfying to be able to assist these families through the process, and TSA is proud to partner with this program at airports nationwide.”
“This event gives participating families an extraordinary opportunity to experience the step by step process of air travel, troubleshoot any issues that arise, and decide if flying is right for them. At the same time, airline staff members gain experience in how to make this process easier for these families. This collaborative effort helps us realize our goal of greater inclusion and acceptance of people with developmental disabilities in our community,” said Jeff Zoghby, Mobile Arc Executive Director.