Press Releases

Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks Present Sensory-friendly Bunny to Create Holiday Memories for People with Special Needs

Partnership aims to spark Easter joy at 295 shopping destinations in U.S. and Canada

(NEW YORK – April 1, 2019) This Easter season, people with autism and other special needs can enjoy a tradition that many families take for granted: visiting the Easter Bunny. “Bunny Cares,” a partnership between Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks, is hosting 311 events in 295 compassionate shopping destinations across the U.S. and Canada. Most take place Sunday, April 7, and others are on Sunday, April 14, depending on location.

Sights, sounds and crowds can be overwhelming for some individuals with autism, who often have sensory sensitivities. At “Bunny Cares” events, lights are dimmed, music is lowered and the event begins early, before shoppers arrive. To eliminate waiting in line, families reserve a time with the Easter Bunny. Trained to interact with special-needs guests, the Easter Bunny often takes his cues from a parent or caregiver who knows the person’s abilities and preferences.

“Most of all, the Easter Bunny remains flexible, standing behind his chair or kneeling beside a wheelchair to capture a photo, or simply allowing extra time for each visitor to experience this time-honored holiday tradition,” said Ruth Rosenquist, marketing and PR director for Cherry Hill Programs, who organize the event along with Autism Speaks.

“Our goal is for everyone to feel welcome,” said Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Thomas Frazier. “Inclusive events like these open new doors for our families and help increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism.”

In addition to the meet-and-greet opportunity, Cherry Hill Programs collects donations to support Autism Speaks’ mission to promote solutions, across the spectrum throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Since 2015, two of Cherry Hill Programs’ signature events, Bunny Cares and the Christmas season’s Santa Cares, have raised more than $611,000.

One mother wrote, "Your autism events are amazing. The bunny was absolutely wonderful and helped so much to put everyone at ease."

People of all ages and abilities are welcome. While visits are free, photo packages will be available for purchase. To register for a “Bunny Cares” event, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/Bunny.

About Autism

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. Most are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1 in 59 children is on the autism spectrum.

About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Go to AutismSpeaks.org to learn more, donate or join a fundraising walk.

About Cherry Hill Programs

Cherry Hill Programs represents over 95 years of combined experience and thought leadership from the most respected pioneers in the experiential photo industry. They bring the magic with authentic Easter and Christmas Experiences for the young and young-at-heart. Cherry Hill Programs operates in hundreds of premier retail and entertainment venues across the U.S. and Canada during the Christmas and Easter season, utilizing innovative technology and authentic characters. Their mission is: Delivering a magical experience. Every time. Visit www.cherryhillprograms.com

Contacts:

Cherry Hill Programs, Ruth Rosenquist

856-663-1616 / 602-505-6844 / santawrangler@cherryhillprograms.com

Autism Speaks, Aurelia Grayson

646-740-1335 / 646-385-8531 / aurelia.grayson@autismspeaks.org