PHS Top Spots: Favorite Play Space Indoor or Outdoor
PHS recently announced our list of 2020 PHS Top Spots winners. While we are just as excited to celebrate these amazing organizations as we have been in past years, most celebrations for these recipients will be taking place virtually. The current social distancing recommendations give us an opportunity to share more insights on our blog as to what makes these groups and organizations stand-outs on our 2020 Top Spots list.
PHS Top Spots Winner: Favorite Play Space Indoor or Outdoor
“It is a great honor for Mall of America to be voted Top Spot to Play by Pediatric Home Service,” said Sara Durhman, community relations director at Mall of America. “We take great pride in having a variety of activities and options under one roof for our guests with special needs to help make their visit not only enjoyable, but comfortable for them and their family.”
It’s Always Sunny
The Mall of America (MOA) is the nation’s largest entertainment and retail destination. Their amenities reach far beyond their vast retail outlets. For area residents the MOA has also become a place for the community to gather in a safe, clean and exciting environment.
“The Mall of America is a community hub inclusive for everyone and is an opportunity for every human on this Earth to find a place to sparkle,” said Sara.
It is also a place of comfort. There is no need for extra clothing or gear on a visit. The warm and welcoming atmosphere is always sunny and 70 degrees.
The Mall of America maintains lighting standards to enhance security as well as safety in parking ramps. Accessibility entrance points ensure easy access for all guests no matter what size or type of adaptive device they may use.
The security team at MOA also undergoes extensive job training that includes a process to support guests with autism and other sensory concerns. Officers and customer service staff are trained to respectfully guide families who may be in crisis or feeling overwhelmed to a quiet space and break away from the crowded and sometimes chaotic atmosphere inside the mall.
Designated “quiet spots” as well as a separate seating area within their restroom facilities offer families a clean and comfortable place to sit and regroup. Restrooms also have adult sized changing facilities. “In many public locations a caregiver is forced to change their older children or adult children in a vehicle. We believe, having a space designed for their needs is essential to protecting their dignity and their privacy,” said Sara.
Keep It Clean
The property’s attention to detail shows through on all levels – and not just with the housekeeping staff. The CEO has been known to walk the halls and pick up a piece of litter that missed the bin.
This thoroughness has been especially important during the pandemic. The Mall of America has raised their state-of-the-art cleaning standards by investing in new-to-market sanitizing equipment. They are also limiting their operating hours to allow for more cleaning time. “We are not just following what the governor tells us to do – we are doing what we think is best no matter the cost,” said Sara.
Access to Fun
All rides at Nickelodeon Universe, except for the ropes course, are handicap accessible. The park has an escort policy that allows chaperones to ride without charge to help those needing additional support.
Ride entrance and seat measurements are posted online to help families prepare for their day at the park. “We are trying to make it easier for families to take measurements and mentally prepare for boarding and unloading from rides. If they know what to expect before they arrive it can minimize their stress and anxiety,” said Sara.
The CMX Market Cinema Experience offers sensory friendly movie showing with the lights up and the sound down to provide a community space that is comfortable to gather in.
Crayola Experience, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium and Radisson Blu have also been proactive in seeking opportunities to provide a safe and inclusive space for guests and their individual needs.