Home » Long Beach Airport (LGB) » 3-4-24 Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, Long Beach Airport Bring “Practice Airport Run” to Neurodivergent Children

Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, Long Beach Airport Bring “Practice Airport Run” to Neurodivergent Children

LGBAutismEvent (2)
Kate Kuykendall
Long Beach Airport

Emily Rogers
Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital

Long Beach, CA – On Saturday, March 2, the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, in collaboration with Long Beach Airport, proudly hosted the inaugural “Take Flight Without Fear” event. This groundbreaking initiative provided neurodivergent children and their families with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in airport culture, fostering confidence, independence and empowerment in children with various abilities. 

“The ‘Take Flight Without Fear’ event is not just about making neurodivergent children and their families more comfortable with the logistics of boarding passes and security checks; it’s about opening doors of possibility,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “Together, we’re paving the way for inclusivity and empowerment.”

Upon arrival at Long Beach Airport, attendees received travel backpacks, filled with travel necessities such as snacks and sensory toys. Patients from the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center were welcomed by Long Beach Airport Deputy Director Juan Lopez-Rios; Fifth District Councilwoman Megan Kerr; Gary Feldman, M.D., Stramski Children’s Developmental Center Medical Director; and Kevin Meno, an Airport volunteer, who is also on the spectrum.

The experience included a tour of the airport facilities, where patients and their caregivers received mock boarding passes and guidance on navigating security screening and procedures from TSA officers.

“This is a transformative experience for our neurodivergent patients,” said Gary Feldman, M.D., Stramski Children’s Developmental Center medical director. “Travel opens up new horizons, fosters confidence, and breaks down barriers, and this event is a testament to our commitment at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital to create inclusive opportunities that empower everyone, regardless of their unique abilities, to navigate the world.”

After being screened, patients were escorted by Long Beach Airport volunteers to their designated gate, where they awaited the unique opportunity to walk onto the tarmac and experience the sights and sounds of an airplane up close. Participants were able to watch planes take off and land, a popular hobby among neurodivergent individuals. Afterward, they celebrated their newfound skills with a visit to baggage claim, marking the completion of their training run.

“At Long Beach Airport, we’re more than just a hub for flights; we’re a gateway to dreams,” said Airport Director Cynthia Guidry. “Let’s show these children that the sky’s the limit and empower them to navigate through life’s journeys with confidence and courage.”

The collaboration between Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital and Long Beach Airport underscores the shared commitment to inclusivity and support for the neurodiverse individuals within the community, further emphasizing the city’s dedication to creating welcoming spaces for all residents.

About the City of Long Beach
Long Beach is nestled along the Southern California coast and home to approximately 466,000people. As an award-winning full-service charter city, Long Beach offers the amenities of a metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods, culture and community. With a bustling downtown and over six miles of scenic beaches, Long Beach is a renowned tourist and business destination and home to the iconic Queen Mary, nationally recognized Aquarium of the Pacific and Long Beach Airport, award-winning Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and world-class Port of Long Beach.

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