Chippewa Valley Regional Airport hosts "Wings for All"

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Flying can be a stressful process for anyone, but people with intellectual disabilities and their families have a harder time than most.

The Chippewa Valley Regional Airport hosted the Wings for All program on Saturday to help educate those with special needs about the airport process.

On Saturday, The Chippewa Valley Regional Airport held an event to help those with intellectual disabilities get used to the flying process.

Wings for All, is an airport rehearsal program designed specifically for individuals with autism or other intellectual disabilities.

Participants arrived at the airport, went through security, and boarded and deboarded a plane with a real flight deck crew.

Lisa Chady of Chady Travel helped bring the program to the Chippewa Valley due to her own travel experiences with her children and described the event.

"We are doing an airport rehearsal program for individuals with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Chady said. “So they're going to get a chance to check in, come practice getting on the plane, boarding the plane, learning about airport travel and airline travel."

Families at the event say that traveling is quite stressful and described some of the challenges that they face.

Terri noel brought her son to the event and said that she has never traveled by plane with him.

"We've never even tried to travel on a plane with Micah,” Noel said. “Car traveling is really the only sort of travel we've done so far. So this is a great chance for us to just see what it is like for him to just sit on a plane. The sounds, the noises, and the vibrations, are what we’re concerned about for him."

Loralee Petersen brought her daughter, Trinity, to the event and says that crowded airports can cause some challenges.

"A lot of times we don't travel with my daughter, Trinity, because she has a lot of anxiety about new places,” Petersen said. “Loud noises and crowded spaces are hard for her and just not understanding the routines that you go through in the airport. Someday, were hoping she can go with us to go visit her sister in South Carolina."

This event is the first of its kind in the Chippewa Valley, and organizers are hoping to hold the event for years to come.

A total of 22 participants, 22 chaperones, and 22 volunteers attended the event.