Pittsburgh, PA– Saturday August 26th, ACHIEVA southwestern Pennsylvania’s largest provider of lifelong support services for individuals with disabilities and their families, will host its first Wings for All® event at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), in partnership with The Arc, Autism Connection, American Airlines and Pittsburgh International Airport.
Wings for All is a national airport “rehearsal” program specially crafted for individuals with disabilities, their families and aviation professionals. Originated by the Charles River Center, a local chapter of The Arc in Massachusetts, Wings for All® was created to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with a disability experience when traveling by air. The program provides families with the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security, and boarding a plane.
Wings for All® also gives airport, airline and TSA 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 a physical disability or intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) that are concerned about the ability of their family member to travel.
46 families from the Pittsburgh area have signed up to benefit from this experience. The day will start with families arriving at the airport at 3:30p.m. Just as routine travel procedures, they will check in to receive their boarding pass, go through security, and be greeted at the gate prior to boarding the plane. The plane will pull off from the gate at 4:45 p.m.
“We are excited to introduce Wings for All® to families in Pittsburgh. For individuals with disabilities, everyday tasks can sometimes prove to be more difficult, air travel especially. This event will not only alleviate the stress, but help educate airport and airline professionals about how best to serve the disability community in the future. We are extremely thankful for our partners, Autism Connection, American Airlines and Pittsburgh International Airport for understanding the importance of this event,” said Danielle Parson, Director of Communications, ACHIEVA.
"We are thrilled to partner with ACHIEVA, American Airlines and Pittsburgh International Airport to support our families as they practice airline travel and all the related security requirements. Autistic people are involved in school, work, and our communities - and like everyone else, they travel! And since the brain with autism is wired a little differently, practicing moving through almost all parts of the flying experience will help real travel go as smoothly as possible," said Luciana Randall, Executive Director, Autism Connection.
“We’re thrilled to partner with ACHIEVA and American Airlines to present a program that not only benefits families but also affords the airport’s stakeholders to continuously improve on accommodating children with special needs,” said Christina Cassotis, CEO of Pittsburgh International Airport. “Improving the travel experience for everyone, including families, which may have children with autism or other situations, is what Pittsburgh International and our employees are all about.”
“We understand that travel can be stressful to some people, particularly those with special needs,” said Chuck Kostelic, American Airlines general manager PIT Operations. “We are proud to partner with the airport, Autism Connection and other agencies to offer a great training experience for these young passengers and their families.”