‘The Beach is for everyBODY: Sensory-Friendly Pledge’ designed to expand the Grand Strand community’s programming for autism families
Local businesses are encouraged to sign up and pledge their support of residents and visitors with autism, sensory processing disorders and other neurodiverse disabilities. By signing “The Beach is for everyBODY: Sensory-Friendly Pledge,” each organization, as part of the greater business community, will commit to welcoming guests with autism and other neurodiverse disabilities through tangible and meaningful actions.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC) and Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) launched the pledge in May as part of the CVB’s ongoing collaboration with the Champion Autism Network (CAN) and through a new partnership with TravelAbility.
“We’ve been recognized as an autism-friendly destination for several years, and we also understand that we can and should do more to support accessible travel. The Beach is for everyBODY: Sensory-Friendly Pledge is an important way we signify and commit to inclusive experiences for all our guests – both resident and visitor,” said Stuart Butler, Chief Marketing Officer for the Myrtle Beach Area CVB. “This new initiative is designed to engage our local businesses in offering greater support for the autism community and we’re asking all businesses to engage in the sensory-friendly pledge as we work to enhance our welcoming experiences for everyone.”
As part of the pledge, businesses will work to provide an inclusive space for visitors of all abilities; practice patience and problem-solving in all situations; and cultivate an environment of acceptance and helpfulness.
“At TravelAbility, our mission is to make travel more accessible to those who face physical and mental challenges by working with destinations to establish resources for visitors,” said Jake Steinman, Founder and CEO of TravelAbility. “We’re proud to partner with Visit Myrtle Beach and Champion Autism Network as they continue to lead the tourism industry in this effort with the Sensory-Friendly Pledge so that travelers on the autism spectrum can feel supported throughout their travel planning and vacation experience.”
Pledge participants are also encouraged to join MBACC and CVB, the Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) and numerous other Grand Strand hotels, resorts, restaurants, attractions and businesses in providing CAN autism training to all of their employees to offer guests more specialized service. The training and certification program provides staff with insights on how to better support guests and customers with autism, including specific sensory needs and accommodations. Certification is part of the nationally recognized CAN Card program, which allows families a simple and meaningful way to indicate their group includes someone with autism. CAN Cards are available at the CVB’s two visitor centers located at MYR or 1200 North Oak Street in Myrtle Beach.
“Creating an environment where families impacted by autism feel supported and without judgment is the mission of CAN. Our partnership with Visit Myrtle Beach and the breadth of programs we’ve initiated are designed to create an inclusive community by building a network of autism champions,” said CAN Executive Director Becky Large.
For more information or to offer your support of The Beach is for everyBODY: Sensory-Friendly Pledge, please go to VisitMyrtleBeach.com/The-Beach-Is-For-Everybody. To learn more about the CAN Card program and autism-friendly opportunities in the Myrtle Beach area, visit VisitMyrtleBeach.com/plan/Autism-Friendly-Vacations.