Owner Myron Gavin approached the manager of Bear Town Cinema after researching and finding that the closest theater to offer sensory-friendly movies is in Onslow County. The next closest is in Raleigh. “Normally, larger theaters such as Carmike and AMC ...
Children with autism or other special needs have the chance to enjoy a movie experience all their own.
Hour Special Place and Bear Town Cinema have teamed up to bring sensory-friendly movies to New Bern.
A sensory-friendly movie featuring â€œThe Secret Life of Petsâ€ is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Bear Town Cinema.
Sensory-friendly movie sessions are presented with dimmed lights and lower volume to accommodate viewers that may be hearing or light sensitive.
Children are allowed to talk, move around in the theater, sing along and dance. This enables the children to enjoy the movie in a way that is not possible during regular movie showing times.
Hour Special Place is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing activities, respite and resources to families and individuals with special needs. Owner Myron Gavin approached the manager of Bear Town Cinema after researching and finding that the closest theater to offer sensory-friendly movies is in Onslow County. The next closest is in Raleigh.
â€œNormally, larger theaters such as Carmike and AMC offer these movies. I thought it was great that our local theater agreed to offer the showings to our community,â€ said Gavin.
For most children, a trip to the theater to watch the latest movie is met with anticipation and excitement. For a child with special needs or autism, the experience is often met with anxiety and fear, said Gavin.
Gavin stressed that walking into a loud, dark theater and sitting for long periods can be overwhelming and stressful for both a special needs child and the family.
Dave McElwrath has worked as manager of Bear Town Cinema since May. He said he gets phone calls regularly with parents inquiring about sensory-friendly movies, and he directs them to Gavin.
McElwrath said giving back by providing a service that is not readily available in the community feels good.
Chris Richardson, who has an 11-year-old son with autism, said he has attended most of the sensory-friendly movies offered at Bear Town Cinema. The theater started the showings in 2013.
â€œThe movies are a lot easier to attend for me and my family than attending a regular movie showing where the sound is too loud and there is complete darkness,â€ he said.
Richardsonâ€™s son is sensitive to sound. The lowered volume offers a better experience, he said. He also said that by allowing the children to move around and talk, the theater has created a great social outing for his son and friends.
Gavin said parents with special needs children also can connect and talk while the children enjoy the movie.
For Saturdayâ€™s showing, PetSmart has donated activity books as well as posters for children.
But Gavin said the movie is not just for children with autism or special needs. Families who have babies or small children are welcome to attend. Often when small children are attending a regular showing, crying or talking is met with criticism from other viewers. The atmosphere of a sensory-friendly movie allows children to simply enjoy themselves, she said.
Bear Town Cinema charges the matinee rate of $6 to all who attend the sensory-friendly movie session. For an extra $2, popcorn will be included. Although the concession stand is open, parents are allowed to bring their own snacks and food to accommodate children with special diets.
Hour Special Place and Bear Town Cinema try to host the showings whenever a new child friendly movie is released. For times and dates of future showings or for more information, visit www.facebook.com/HourSpecialPlace or contact Gavin at 626-8363.
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