HOUSTON — Traveling can be a challenge for anyone, but the scope of those challenges can grow exponentially for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
To help make that challenge a little easier, the Houston Airport System has teamed with advocate group The Arc, United Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), The Arc of Fort Bend County, The Arc of Greater Houston, The Arc of Texas, and the Doug Flutie Foundation to offer Wings for All® events at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
On April 26, 2016, the third such event was held at Bush Intercontinental, with a number of families participating an airport “rehearsal” specially designed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and aviation professionals. Families were given the opportunity to participate in the entire airport experience by practicing entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security, and boarding an airplane. Wings for All® also gives airport, airline, TSA professionals and other personnel the opportunity to observe, interact and deliver their services in a structured learning environment.
“The Houston Airport System and the staff here at George Bush Intercontinental Airport are thrilled to be a part of this event,” said Ken Whittaker, Manager of Customer Services for Bush Intercontinental Airport. “Our employees and business partners have really answered the call by volunteering their time and assistance to ensure success and if this helps even one family to expand their travel opportunities then this will have been time well spent.”
Wings for All® — one of The Arc’s newest national initiatives — was originally developed by the Charles River Center, a local chapter of The Arc in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Port Authority. In the last year, more than 500 families from all over the country have taken part in these events.
“We are delighted to continue this partnership to bring ‘Wings for All’ to Houston,” said Laura LaVigne, Executive Director, The Arc of Fort Bend County. “Hopefully, the opportunity to actually practice maneuvering through the airport and boarding an airplane will enable children and adults with I/DD to travel by air with their families. George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the TSA and United Airlines staffs have all welcomed this program with open arms and they take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about how to serve everyone who wants to travel by air.”
Learn more about The Arc and its programs at this link.
About The Arc
The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of more than 650 chapters across the country (including 33 in Texas) promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.
About the Houston Airport System
Houston Airports served more than 55 million passengers in 2015. Houston’s three airports — George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) — contribute more than $27.5 billion to the regional economy. Bush Intercontinental and Hobby collectively provide nonstop flights to nearly 200 destinations worldwide. For more information, visit fly2houston.com. Get social with Houston Airports by following us on Twitter @IAH and @HobbyAirport.