By Alyssa Schnugg

news editor

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For children and adults dealing with sensory input issues, simply going to the cinema to watch a movie on the big screen can be a difficult time.

From bright, flashing lights to loud surround-sound speakers, a movie theater can be too overwhelming for some.

A group from this year’s Leadership Lafayette group wants to provide opportunities for people of all ages with sensory input issues to enjoy going to the movies, starting with the younger folks in the community.

The group has reserved a theater at the Malco Oxford Commons and will screen children’s film “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Strang” on June 30 at 9:30am.

Project director Shanika Ward hopes the sensory-enhancing screening will be the first in a series of sensory-enhancing films to be offered at Malco.

Ward has worked with people with special needs at the North Mississippi Regional Center in Oxford for 18 years.

“I’ve met so many people with children and adults with hearing disabilities who have a lot of trouble going to the movies,” she said. “Sensory input responses occur when the brain receives and organizes information from external sources such as light or sound. Individuals may not respond to this everyday sensory information the way most people do. You may feel bombarded by even the smallest stimulation.”

Ward said that when parents try to get their child with sensory input issues into a movie, oftentimes film workers and others in the theater don’t always understand or have patience for children to move or get upset when their sensory inputs trigger responses.

“I found these sensory tours were also important for educating film workers on what’s going on and how to offer their help,” Ward said.

The Leadership Lafayette program training builds community leaders through shared knowledge, skills and experience. The program emphasizes leadership development through activities promoting community awareness, team building and project development.

Ward’s group was able to reserve the theater for the June 30 film; However, as this is a special visit, tickets must be purchased prior to the event. Tickets are $7 for adults and children. The theater lights remain on but are dimmed slightly. The sound is turned down and the children can move freely as needed.

If the community response is positive, future visits for adults and children could be possible.

The theater must be reserved first, which requires funds.

Donations will be accepted from those who wish to support the sensory-friendly films but do not wish to attend.

To purchase tickets or donate, visit

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