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Wheatley Farms Welcomes Families for a Day of Sensory Friendly Activities at Debut Harvest Festival

Families from across Long Island made their way to the Thomas S. Gulotta Wheatley Farms and Arts Center to take part in their inclusive Harvest Festival on October 9. This debut event was designed to delight children and families of all abilities through a celebration of the fall season with pony rides, a pumpkin patch, dancing, arts and crafts, and more.

A family poses for a photo at the Wheatley Farms Harvest FestivalBetween goat parades and inflatable maze visits, families had the opportunity to visit sensory-friendly stations for play that not only offers a spot to recharge, but engages visual, auditory and tactile processing as well as fine motor skills.

Brookville Center for Children’s Services Senior Director Debra Doyle, teamed up with Children’s Education Center Director Denise Gaughan, Clinical Coordinator Ray Rogers, and Curriculum Coordinator Shery Dvorak to create sensory-friendly areas inside the farmhouse and outside in the sunshine. Moments in this unique space were covered by News 12.

Complete with sandbox play stations and bubble tubes that light up and change color, the sensory area included a pop-up tent, sit-and-spin disc, soothing music, and vibrating pillows.

“It’s beneficial for children who may be overstimulated to have a calming, peaceful place to relax and recharge,” said Debra.

The event came together with the help of over 100 volunteers, agency staff, and dozens of vendors where festival goers were able to connect with families who share similar lived experiences.

“To go to an event like this where people just get it, they understand that sometimes our children have specific needs that need to be met is just great,” said Brianne Hawrusik, a BCCS Barbara C. Wilson School parent who attended the festival with her husband and two sons.

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