Progressive Field is now certified as "sensory inclusive," after the Indians partnered with Kulture City out of Alabama, to ensure all programs, activities, and events that the ballpark hosts accommodate the needs of fans with sensory issues.
Part of the certification process was ensuring that all Progressive Field staff be trained by medical professionals to better recognize guests with sensory needs. Now, the stadium is equipped with sensory bags, that include noise-canceling headphones, weighted lap pads, and more.
Progressive Field joins other local establishments, including Quicken Loans Arena and the Akron Zoo as sensory inclusive.
See the full press release from the Indians below.
The Cleveland Indians have partnered with KultureCity to make Progressive Field and all of the programs and events that the ballpark hosts to be sensory inclusive. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with a sensory issue who visit the ballpark.
The certification process entailed the staff at Progressive Field being trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize those guests and fans with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.
Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads will also be available to all guests at the ballpark who may feel overwhelmed by the environment and can be checked out from Fan Services.
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in a venue like Progressive Field. With its new certification, the ballpark is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending any event at the ballpark
“To know that you soon will be able to see families attend a baseball game, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment,” said Traci Johnson, Executive Director of KultureCity. “Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Indians are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs; not just those with Autism. In the past year alone, KultureCity has created several sensory inclusive venues and events including the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, 16 NBA arenas, 5 NFL stadiums, 5 NHL arenas and countless zoos, science centers and aquariums across the nation.
Beginning Friday, July 7th, the Akron Zoo is the first zoo in Ohio, and only the second in the country, to be certified sensory inclusive by KultureCity out of Birmingham, Alabama.
Sensory inclusive means the zoo is now accessible and accommodating to those with sensory needs, including autism. Upon entry, the zoo is now offering sensory bags that include noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and weighted blankets. The zoo now features five quiet zones for guests who need a break from the everyday commotion that is common at the zoo. There is also a guest comfort station, which is a private room for guests only, giving them a place to relax.
"One of our goals is to make the zoo accessible to everyone," Akron Zoo President and CEO Doug Piekarz said in a statement. "By partnering with the very effective team at KultureCity we know that the zoo is more welcoming to all families and we are now equipped to offer a better experience for families with sensory needs."
(Akron Zoo President and CEO Doug Piekarz, Akron Zoo Marketing and Group Sales Manager Elena Bell, Amy Belles, Carson Belles, Jeff Belles)
This isn't the first venture KultureCity has taken up in Northeast Ohio. With the help of Amy and Jeff Belles of Akron, KultureCity worked with Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers to make Quicken Loans Arena sensory inclusive. The Belles family, including 12-year-old Carson, who was diagnosed with autism at 2-years-old, worked with employees and helped train them, both at the Q and at the Akron Zoo, to be more sensory inclusive.
Training for all Akron Zoo employees lasted about 6 or 7 months, and now they're equipped to help make those with sensory needs more comfortable when they walk through the zoo.
See more at AkronZoo.org.