The 13-year-old Boiling Springs resident has cerebral palsy, autism and vision impairment.
Because of his condition, he can’t sit still very long and is prone to outbursts that are primarily happy, but considered disruptive in most public settings.
“We’ve never been able to (go to the movies) before,” said Jonathan’s mother, Shannon Sawyer. “We probably would’ve been kicked out for disturbing people.”
On Saturday, the Sawyers celebrated a family milestone at the new NCG Cinema at Hillcrest shopping center.
As they reclined in their comfy theater seats for a showing of DreamWorks animated alien adventure “Home,” Jonathan and his mother felt like they were the ones launching into another universe.
Jonathan squealed with joy as iridescent bubbles floated and popped on screen. An unbridled smile crept across Sawyer’s face.
“I told my husband it’s like Christmas morning,” Sawyer said. “I think it’s great. I’ve heard of things like this in larger cities, but I never thought Spartanburg would get it.”
The Sawyers were part of a crowd of about a dozen patrons who visited the theater to make the most of a new program being rolled out by Michigan-based NCG (Neighborhood Cinema Group) Cinemas.
The program involves a series of sensory-friendly movie showings at its theaters one Saturday each month for people with special needs.
During the showings, the lights won’t be turned down all the way and the sound won’t be so loud. The theater company said it welcomes moviegoers to stand up, sing and dance along and move around during the movie.
The company said its employees underwent training developed by Special Needs Certified of Atlanta before the program began.
Sawyer said she read about the program on Facebook and decided to take Jonathan, who is a student at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.
“This is great,” said Josh Black, general manager of the Spartanburg NCG Cinema. “It’s something we’ve been hoping to do for a while. I’m glad to see everyone enjoying it.”
The theater has scheduled three more showings through July 11. Local residents can watch “Tommorowland” on May 22, “Inside Out” on June 20, and “Minions” on July 11.
Each showing is at 10 a.m. Tickets are $6 per person.
NCG Cinemas opened its new location in the former Carmike 7 Cinema in November.
It operates 17 cinemas in six states, including South Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois.
For more information, visit: www.ncgmovies.com
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