P.E.I. woman creates visual aids to help children during photos with Santa

A Charlottetown woman is using pictures to help children communicate better during photos with Santa.

Teagan Pringle came up with the idea while working with children with intellectual disabilities at a school in New Zealand.

On Saturday at Confederation Court Mall in Charlottetown, Pringle brought visual aids while helping with the holiday photo session. 

She had depictions of faces showing various emotions — happy, sad, worried or afraid. When she asked the children how they were feeling, each child could point to a drawing.

"With Santa photos for kids, it's very emotional to say the least," she said.

"Either … excitement or nervousness, some even petrified more or less. So visuals allow kids to portray their emotions in a different way … when sometimes words can't fit the means."

Isabella Zavarise/CBC

Pringle said she also brings cards with photos of Santa, a sleigh and even an image of a person waiting so children know what to expect on that day.

Chad Publicover was at the mall to get Santa photos with his 4½-year-old daughter, Emma. She held a Santa card as she waited her turn. 

Publicover said it was his first time seeing the visual aids at an event.

"I think they're great because not every kid reacts to Santa the same way," he said. 

Every kid wants to and deserves to see Santa Claus in an environment that's comfortable and welcoming. - Teagan Pringle

Pringle said the visual aids are for all children, not just those who may have an intellectual disability. 

"You know, even kids that don't have any … disabilities often have a difficult time explaining how they're feeling," she said.

"So for me to be able to give them something that can help make the experience a little bit easier, or [provide] a little bit more understanding for the children, I just thought why not."

Pringle said she's received positive feedback about the visual aids and hopes to continue to incorporate them in the future. 

"Every kid wants to and deserves to see Santa Claus in an environment that's comfortable and welcoming."

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