New opportunities for children with disabilities

Published: Dec. 18, 2017 at 2:11 AM CST
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Incredible Pizza and Arc of the Ozarks have teamed up to provide children with disabilities a chance to experience an arcade.

Zack Martin is one of the masterminds behind the Incredible Buddies program which meets at Incredible Pizza on the first Saturday of each month. He says its all about sensory sensitivity.

"We lower the sound in our game room, which is very loud normally, by about sixty five percent," Martin said. "We have a lot of flashing and strobing lights that don't really work well if there are folks who have sensory processing issues, so we found a way to cover those or illuminate them," he added.

Martin said he and his staff have created a special plan for how to change each game in the arcade, making them more controlled for the first Saturday of the month. The Incredible buddies mentoring staff has also received ten hours of specialized training, something that helps the kids have a better experience.

"For a lot of these families, it's hard to kind of imagine not being able to get up and go out of your house and doing something. The parents have told me they feel like people are staring or watching and not understanding the needs of their family, so we just really wanted to create an environment where they are comfortable and the feedback we have gotten has been absolutely amazing," Martin said.

Parents have told Martin that their kids look forward to coming to the arcade all month long.

"They get a chance to play the games without having to wait in line, they turn the lights up that way its not over sensitizing to these guys, and she just comes out, plays, has fun and has a good time, something she doesn't get to have most of the time," Yvonne Clark, a mom of of one of the children at the arcade said.

"We really appreciate everything Incredible Pizza has done for our kiddos and all special needs parents should take the opportunity to come out. It's a great great thing that they do," Melissa Adamson added.

Martin says he would like to see other local businesses to provide similar resources

"The bigger picture is that there are hundreds of businesses in our community that are missing the boat. If Incredible Pizza Company can make some small changes and accommodate these families and make them feel lived on, thinking about your grocery stores, your shopping experiences in general, other attractions in the area. We want to challenge them to something different and to think about these families and make their facilities a little bigger and more accessible or accommodating."