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Silver Dollar City teams up with Mercy to offer a ‘calming space’ for guests with special needs

Published: May. 15, 2022 at 6:09 PM CDT|Updated: May. 15, 2022 at 8:28 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Silver Dollar City in Branson and Mercy have teamed up to offer families more resources at the theme park to provide extra care.

“The more that we can align with families and be a part of that togetherness and strengthening families, that’s key,” said Craig McCoy, President of Mercy.

He says the services gear towards accessibility and good health. There are more hand sanitizing stations set up throughout the park. Silver Dollar City made enhancements to the first aid stations and nursing stations for new mothers.

However, the most notable addition is the ‘calming space’ for guests with special needs who experience sensory overload while at the park.

Silver Dollar City project manager Jessica Loftis said, “The entire wall is something kids can touch and feel and feel different textures and layers. Also, basic sensory toys, fidget toys, or anything to help them calm from the day.”

The room includes soothing colors, soft seating, low lighting, books, sensory toys, and a large padded area for rest, rolling, or jumping. It has space for one family at a time with no time limit.

“Just thinking about it, it’s pretty incredible,” said Jennifer Murray, executive director of the emergency department for Mercy.

She has a child with Autism and knows first-hand how overwhelming the park can be at times.

“We always had to have an exit strategy when we would come to Silver Dollar City because when Andrew was ready to go, he was ready to go. I never want to say that he ruined it for his brothers, but as hard as it is to be Andrew’s mom, to be his sibling is every bit as big a challenge,” she said.

She says this resource is vital.

“It’s game-changing for families that have children with autism,” explained Murray.

President of Silver Dollar City Brad Thomas said, “Today is just the start of future plans and things that we’ll do together with Mercy.”

The park will also have access to medical records for Mercy patients in case of an emergency and onsite care is needed.

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