Wings for All event helps disabled kids learn how to handle airports

Posted at 9:05 PM, Sep 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-16 23:05:27-04

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Grand Forks (WDAY) — GRAND FORKS – Nearly 90 people got a special flight for those with disabilities in the first-ever North Dakota “Wings for All” event.

They all boarded this plane that would never take off.

Instead, it served an even higher purpose.

This is the first-ever “Wings for All” event in the state.

It’s a chance for families with mentally and physically disabled loved ones to practice getting through airport security.

“Being a parent, you want your children to be exposed to as many things as you can and help them be the best they can – and that’s the same as a parent of a disabled child,” says parent Robert Kleven.

Disabilities ranged from Autism to Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

The itinerary followed exactly what people would do when boarding a flight.

From the check-in to actually boarding the plane; everything is authentic, just slowed down for people to ask questions.

That’s what parents are saying is the best part, because it makes it easier to understand.

“Everyone has anxiety about flying, but for kids like Oliver it’s intensified – everything is a little scarier, because you can’t explain it. He can’t understand the concepts of most things,” says parent Beth Sheethan.

It’s not just for the passengers, air attendants say it’s good practice for them too.

“It’s really teaching our crews that no matter who the passenger is to pay attention to their issues are, to talk to a caregiver, to understand if someone isn’t looking them in the eye or not responding to the briefing,” says attendant Hilarie Grey.

Keeping the skies friendly and accessible.

The free event was a partnership between “The Arc Upper Valley”, Allegiant Air, and the North Dakota Association for the Disabled.