By Julia Beauregard
Hometown Weekly Editor
This past Saturday the Congregational Church of Needham, United Church of Christ (UCC) hosted their annual Just-4-Fun Egg Hunt. Children ranging from pre-k through grade 5 were invited to come hunt together for over one thousand candy-filled eggs. The event was anticipated to have over two hundred children in attendance, who eagerly anticipated hunting for their treats.
The event was originally intended to be held in the lawn of the Church, but due to poor weather conditions, the event was held inside one of the common rooms in the church.
However, on the other side of the church, within the walls of the sanctuary, UCC added a sensory friendly egg hunt for children with sensory processing issues or autism spectrum disorder. The sensory-friendly egg hunt had fewer people; under thirty children were expected to attend, and there was no music, more space for the children to walk around, and the eggs were placed in easy to find spaces, such as on tops of pews and within the pewracks.
“This is the first year for the sensory friendly egg-hunt,” Julie Roden, a church volunteer shared. She went on to share that one of the church members has a child with sensory processing issues and church members came together with the idea to host a sensory friendly version of the egg hunt, so all children could partake in the egg-hunt fun.
The sensory-friendly egg hunt started about an hour prior to the Just-4-Fun egg hunt, so the children could come in and out without a lot of disruption. Both events were led by church volunteers who handed out baskets and bunny-ears for the children that wanted to use these items.
While the Just-4-Fun egg hunt had eggs filled with candy, the sensory-friendly eggs held a variety of different toys, including cars, dinosaurs, animals, and stickers. Many children with sensory-processing issues have difficulty with food due to texture and flavor, which causes food aversions. Opting for toys ensured that the children would leave with toys to play with, rather than candy that might not be eaten.
With all the consideration for the neurodivergent children in attendance, the sensory-friendly egg hunt was a success. Each child left with ten new toys and a smile bright on their faces.
The UCC anticipates holding more sensory-friendly events in the future. For further information, check out their website: https://www.needhamucc.org/