Christchurch Airport introduces sunflower lanyards to aid people with hidden disabilities

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https://www.interairport-southeastasia.com/en-gb/lp/exprom-2.htmlAirports can be busy and confusing places, but for people with Hidden Disabilities they can be simply overwhelming. For this reason, Christchurch Airport has joined the Sunflower Lanyard scheme, a programme for people who would like a little more assistance without having to ask for it.

The lanyards are used by people with a non-visible disability to indicate the wearer would like additional support, assistance or a little more time. Those disabilities include anxiety, autism, dementia, hearing impairment, epilepsy and partial sight.

Head of Customer & Commercial, Craig Dunstan says the airport team began working towards implementing the scheme a couple of years ago, but paused while the pandemic impacted passenger numbers through the terminal. “The distinctive lanyard is well known at many airports across the world, so developing our scheme involved listening to many groups, including other airports, community health advisors, groups supporting people with disabilities, and families whose children benefit from wearing the lanyard,” Dunstan says. “Almost one in four New Zealanders identifies as having a mild or severe disability, so the various groups representing them offered us very helpful information to shape our scheme. Hidden disabilities can affect a person’s day-to-day life, but not be immediately obvious to people interacting with them. It was especially enlightening to learn from lanyard wearers what does and doesn’t work for them, and hear their suggestions about how it would work best for them at our airport. We are very grateful to the people and groups who shared their experiences and knowledge with us. I think especially of a family which lives overseas and travels to family here, whose daughter gave us her valuable perspective of wearing a Sunflower Lanyard.”

Dunstan says the airport is offering the lanyards free to people who need them, along with a downloadable or printed guide to the airport. “The images and text in the guide will help people with Hidden Disabilities know what to expect and where to find things when they come to the airport,” he says. “Staff in the many different teams at the airport are aware of what the lanyards mean and willing to discreetly assist the wearer. We all look forward to making the wearers’ airport experience the best it can be.”


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