See pictures from DreamNight 2014
Since 2004, Roger Williams Park Zoo, in partnership with Hasbro Children's Hospital, has been hosting DreamNight at the Zoo for children with special health care needs.
DreamNight is an exclusive evening at the zoo where children with special health care needs such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and developmental conditions can enjoy the full zoo experience, along with their families, free of charge and without concern for social stigma, accessibility or cost.
"Children who have special health care needs, such as those with cerebral palsy, spina bifida or neurological challenges, need constant care and attention. They often cannot participate in the same activities as their peers and, unfortunately, feel like outsiders when it comes to playtime," said Maura Taylor, program administrator for the Children's Neurodevelopment Center at Hasbro Children's Hospital. "The zoo has recognized this, and has partnered with the CNDC to provide a special night where our patients and their families can relax and have fun, all while receiving the special attention they need, surrounded by others who are just like them."
Begun by the Rotterdam Zoo in 1996, DreamNight is now celebrated annually on the first Friday in June by over 170 zoos around the world. Roger Williams Park Zoo was among the first U.S. zoos to host the event, in 2004.
See NBC 10's Barbara Morse Silva's 2009 report on one family who was looking forward to the night out after a long two years.