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Can Sporting Events Be Sensory-friendly?

KultureCity makes event venues more accessible for kids with sensory sensitivities.

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Loud sounds, bright lights, and unfamiliar surroundings at large, crowded event venues can cause extreme emotional reactions for children with sensory processing disorder, autism, and other sensitivities. KultureCity makes it possible for families to enjoy a game at the stadium together.

Founded in 2013, KultureCity is a nonprofit organization creating more sensory-accessible spaces. In Colorado, 11 venues have received its Sensory Inclusive certification, including Empower Field at Mile High, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Ball Arena, and Infinity Park.

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“We provide training for guest-facing staff on what sensory needs are, how to approach someone with a sensory overload, and effective communication,” says Uma Srivastava, executive director of KultureCity.

Each stadium has sensory bags available for check out, which include noise-canceling headphones and fidget tools. In addition, venues offer social stories for families to review before a visit with information that explains to guests what they can expect. Social stories are specific to each venue, but often include how to identify event staff, how people might behave at the event, and where to locate bathrooms. Some venues offer designated quiet areas as well; just ask at guest services. For locations that don’t have dedicated space for quiet areas, KultureCity offers a mobile sensory station.

Coors Field staff is currently being trained for the certification, and hopes to have sensory bags ready for the 2022 baseball season. “We make the ‘nevers’ possible,” Srivastava says.

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