TSA teamed up with the South Jersey Transit Authority (SJTA) and private screening company VMD Corporation to break down travel barriers for a group of adults with special needs at New Jersey’s Atlantic City International Airport (ACY).
SJTA arranged a tour of ACY for 25 people, showing them the layout of the airport and TSA’s processes and resources. VMD officers entered the scene when the special needs group arrived at the private screening part of the tour.
“The goal of the tour,” said VMD Project Manager Aimee Oseguera, “was to create awareness of the services ACY offers, familiarize the group with the process behind air travel and reduce the anxiety some may associate with air travel.”
Officers conducted the tour during a slower time of day with lead TSA officer Kathleen Dalessio leading the group through the screening process.
“The tours are arranged to take place during our off-peak times so that order, calm, and positive control can be maintained,” explained Oseguera. “Our entire on-duty staff was made aware of the tour, so they screened them as they would any passenger but exercised special care.”
Community outreach, like VMD’s Screening Partnership Program, is designed to simplify the screening process and educate people with special needs on the travel experience. With the opportunity to have their questions answered, the group has the chance to discard their misconceptions and feel more confident about traveling in the future.
Additionally, the officers enjoy contributing to this mission. They are able to hear in-person feedback, personally put a face to TSA, and give travelers a positive experience.
“Tours like these not only give the traveling public a learning opportunity but also one for our Officers,” said Oseguera. “Tours break down some of those walls and reignite enthusiasm for the mission.”
The success of ACY’s community outreach program is a result of the dedication of VMD’s officers as well as the SJTA. Their willingness to communicate directly with the community has fostered a better space for all of the public to travel.