The inaugural HOU Wings for All event was HOU’s Customer Service biggest project of 2019. The event involved HAS, Transportation Security Administration, Autism Society, Down Syndrome Association, Southwest Airlines and the Arc of Texas. IAH started the program in the spring of 2016. Wings for All, also known as Wings for Autism, was created to assist families of children with autism and other intellectual disabilities practice going through the airport and getting onboard an aircraft, so that when it is time to travel on an actual trip, they're more familiar with the process and their surroundings. These events help make the magic of flight a possibility for almost 500 participants at both airports.
Within the first 48 hours of registration, the HOU list reached capacity, prompting a wait list. Over 90 attendees were greeted by HOU Airport Ambassadors and volunteers from the Arc of Texas, who also provided bright blue shirts to make all attendees easily visible. Southwest employees also dressed up as Disney princesses to make the children more comfortable. Joy and Abby, HOU’s Pet Therapy Program (PTP) canines, provided additional comfort to families anxious about being in a busy airport. TSA streamlined the screening process with a VIP line dedicated to attendees.
The event ended with participants receiving: special Texas bags, donated by HAS concessions, at baggage Creating a Culture of Caring and Awareness at HAS claim; a nice reception, including appetizers, also donated by HAS concessions; and giveaways
provided by the Autism Society. The event ran flawlessly as all children participated in on-plane activities and were able to speak with various autism and special needs educational vendors during the reception. The event will be held once a year and conversations on improvement and ways to make it a bigger success have started.
Read the recent City Savvy article on Wings for All.