Seattle Seahawks balm for sensory needs fans


Lumen Field with new sensory room Image: Seattle Seahawks

The National Football League (NFL) team Seattle Seahawks announced recently new updates to the sensory room at their digs – Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington (US) – as well as training for event staff to better support guests with sensory needs.

‘Seattle Seahawks’ stated that launched in 2019 as the A-OK Sensory room, the space will now be known as the ‘Ben’s Room’ and will continue to offer guests at Lumen Field a safe and calming environment for those who need a respite from the noise and excitement that comes with the Seahawks gameday experience.

The Seattle Seahawks are a professional American football team based in Seattle, US. The Seahawks compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference West, which they joined in 2002. The club entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1976.

The 72,000-capacity Lumen Field is a multipurpose stadium in Seattle, Washington, United States. Located in the City’s SoDo neighborhood, it is the home field for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL), the Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) and OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

‘Seattle Seahawks’ further stated that the room was originally spearheaded by Traci Schneider, who along with her husband, Seahawks General Manager John Schneider, have long supported youth and families with autism through their foundation, Ben’s Fund. They launched Ben’s Fund in 2012 in honor of their son Ben, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.

To oversee the renovation project, the Seahawks partnered with KultureCity, United States leading nonprofit on sensory accessibility and acceptance for those with invisible disabilities. The newly remodeled Ben’s Room is now outfitted with 100 percent recycled soundproof carpet along the floor and walls, along with new activity panels, bean bags from Yogibo, visual light panels by Nanoleaf, a Sparkle Interactive Light by NunoErin, which includes therapeutically-fun furniture embedded with soft glowing lights that respond to motion, and bubble walls. The room also features original artwork from Ben Schneider.

As part of the project, KultureCity also facilitated training for more than 400 gameday staff at Lumen Field. Led by medical professionals, the training teaches staff how to recognize guests and fans with sensory needs, as well as how to handle sensory overload situations. The space is designed to be used by families for 15-20 minutes at a time, for a brief break from the noise during a game.

Birmingham, Alabama (US)-based KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs, not just those with autism. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 1,000 sensory-inclusive venues in six countries.

Commented Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Seahawks Vice-President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, “We are proud to rename Lumen Field’s sensory room ‘Ben’s Room’ in recognition of the incredible work Traci and John Schneider continue to do in our community to support youth and families with autism. We know the noise of gameday can be overwhelming for many guests. My own son has not attended a Seahawks game yet due to sensory challenges related to autism, and I’m hopeful that inclusive rooms like this could possibly change that for him in the future. We are grateful to our partners at KultureCity for their efforts in helping us offer an enhanced quiet and calm space for anyone who needs it.”

Ben’s Room is located at the Guest Services Center on the Southwest Field Plaza and is open for all full stadium events. Children using the room must be accompanied by an adult. Fans can also check out complimentary sensory toolkits at the SW Guest Services Center location on the Field Plaza, just South of the Pro Shop. The toolkits include noise-canceling headphones, ear plugs and sensory toys.

Noted Uma Srivastava, Executive Director, KultureCity, “Our communities are what shape our lives and to know that the Seahawks and Lumen Field are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing. We’re honored to partner with the Seahawks to provide a truly inclusive experience for all fans and guests.”

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