Inclusive Activities, Events, and Places to Play
Engaging a child in sensory play is always a win-win.
We’ve found 6+ spots around Kalamazoo that include sensory-friendly activities. If lights, sounds, and crowds become major obstacles for your family, this list offers a calming setting.
And, make sure to review specific sensory-friendly events happening year-round.
We’re thrilled to see such businesses take the lead and hope to see more places follow suit.
Stretch and Breath with Yoga at Santosha Wellness
Yoga soothes the body. All Abilities Yoga, offered at Santosha Wellness, is designed for all ages, but is especially well-suited and structured with extra support for children with special needs. The class is designed to develop listening skills, motor skills, social-emotional skills, and self-confidence while increasing strength and flexibility.
Classes will include postures, breathing exercises and meditation. This class is led by a highly trained yoga instructor who has additional training in teaching yoga to children with special needs.
Jump, Twist, and Fly to the Sky – Sky Zone Portage
Four times a year, Sky Zone offers Special Needs Sensory Friendly Jump from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
Every effort is made to accommodate jumpers with any kind of special needs. The first hour provide a quieter, toned-down jumping experience for those with special needs. The second hour includes music due to other programming.
SkyZone does have a ramp for wheelchairs or scooters to ascend to the second trampoline level for family members needing mobility assistance. You will surely enjoy all of the ample areas for lounging and comfortable seating for those not participating in the jumping.
Turn the Lights Up and the Sound Down for a Celebration!
Celebration Cinema Crossroads offers Sensory Showtimes developed in part with the Family Hope Foundation. Lights are dim but remain on. The volume is lowered and movies begin at showtime with limited previews. Cheering, calling out, clapping, and strolling around the theatre is welcomed.
For those with limited mobility, each theatre has wheelchair access seating as well as companion seats parallel.
Find Innovative Fun For All at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum
Kalamazoo Valley Museum renovated one of their more popular areas for children to play and explore – now called the Innovation Lab.
They have added new spaces that will allow for a quieter experience as well as backpacks located at their front desk that are stocked with sensory tools to increase focus and help with movement.
For the Planetarium they are happy to provide glasses and headphones or earplugs on request to make sure every guest has the opportunity to enjoy the wonder. Lap blankets and pillows are also available for use.
For those with limited mobility, the museum is well-equipped. Ride the elevator to the second floor and you’ll see a majority of the innovation lab areas are extremely accessible. In addition to the other exhibits you can find limited mobility friendly toys and activities in the toddler area.
Enjoy the Magic of Theatre and Music
The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre caters to families by offering sensory-friendly performances for all of their Civic Youth Theatre productions. All designated shows are also ASL Interpreted and the Civic offers Audio Descriptive Performances for the visually challenged. The Civic is part of the nationally recognized Penguin Project for the 2019-20 season. They give youth and young adults with special needs the opportunity to participate directly in the community theatre experience. The Civic’s Penguin Project Production will be Annie Jr (June 2020).
The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra has sensory tools available for shows at their marketing table to make performances more comfortable. They offer headphones, sunglasses, earplugs and fidget toys to borrow.
Center Stage Theatre provides a sensory-friendly performance for their seasonal shows. The performance is reviewed by a consultant from the Kalamazoo Autism Center to alter or remove elements to meet the needs of individuals attending the performance.
For those with limited mobility, the three theater locations above are equipped with ramps and handicapped seating areas.
Kalamazoo offers a number of accessible parks to enjoy the outdoors. Visit Upjohn Park a “boundless park” featuring adaptive playground equipment, a multi-use field, a picnic shelter with tables and accessible bathrooms. Ramona Park in Portage has an accessible playground with a colorful soft surface.
Gull Meadow Farms partnered with Kulture City and became sensory certified in 2019. They offer sensory bags filled with: noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, special badges, and weighted lap blankets by request. The farm hosts designated sensory nights – a modified setting with fewer crowds, less waiting in line, and no music.
The farm has a paved path for those with limited mobility and the majority of the farm is flat and easy to maneuver. You can find handicap parking near the entrance of the market.
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We love that more businesses are realizing the need for sensory and handicap accessible programs and are shifting towards a more inclusive environment. If you have any more places to add please leave them in the comments below!