Strand Theatre launches new initiative

Special to The Gazette -

The Strand Theatre has joined the ranks of the 8 percent of theaters in the nation that are sensory friendly by developing an ongoing series for those on the Autism spectrum or with developmental disabilities.

The series was launched with an open house from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Strand, 28 E. Winter St., Delaware. The mission of the Strand Theatre is to “work to foster the public’s appreciation of films and historic movie theatres as part of the American culture.”

The theater also believes “everyone should be able to enjoy and take part in one of America’s favorite pastimes — watching movies on the big screen.”

At the Strand Theatre sensory open house, guests will learn about the sensory-friendly initiative and about organizations that have family resources to share. Individuals will also have an opportunity to tour the theaters including the newly renovated Balcony Theatre in the sensory setting — lights up and lowered volume. Patrons are free to dance and move around while feeling comfortable in their own skin.

The Strand Sensory Series is an effort to help neighbors in their quest for local entertainment that provides those with autism, developmental disabilities, and other sensory needs the ability to see and experience all the things the world has to offer. While there are other theaters in central Ohio that host sensory showings, there have been none in Delaware until now.

Beginning in March, the Strand will launch its sensory-friendly initiative with a monthly Sensory Series. Every third Saturday at 10 a.m., the Strand will show a film in the preferred setting — lights on and lowered volume in one of the downstairs theaters. The first film will be Saturday, March 17, with a showing of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Admission is $5 per person, and doors will open at 9:30 a.m.

Managing Director Tracey Peyton said, “I would like to offer special thanks to The Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities and OCALI (Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence). Through education and training, marketing and in-kind donations, their support on the ground floor of our initiative has been invaluable.”

Peyton added the team at the Strand took part in “People-First” training and also in “The Many Faces of Autism Course,” which has led to certification.

“I wanted to make sure that we executed this initiative properly, hence the training,” she said. “This is much more than putting a movie on screen and keeping the lights on throughout the film. It’s about learning about and embracing our neighbors, while treating them as people first.”

As a nonprofit organization, the Strand relies on community and donor support, grants and sponsorships, and governmental support to fund programs like these. Sponsorships are available to fund this program.

The iconic Strand Theatre will celebrate its 102nd year in operation in 2018, and it stands today as one of the 10 longest-operating theaters in the United States and one of the few remaining independent theaters showing first-run films. Estimated to have an economic impact of $1 million annually to the Delaware community, the Strand serves 75,000 patrons per year and is open 364 days a year.

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