NHL arena to cater to fans with sensory processing needs

NHL ice hockey franchise the Carolina Hurricanes and the team’s home ground, PNC Arena, have launched a new sensory inclusive program.

The 19,000-seat arena (pictured) has been certified as sensory inclusive in a move designed to support its initiatives to enhance the fan experience for all guests, including those with sensory processing needs.

The idea for the program has been presented to the team by local high school senior Cameron Jarvis, who is on the autism spectrum.

Hurricanes president Don Waddell said: “The new program will allow us to better assist and accommodate guests with sensory processing needs. We want all guests to enjoy their experience at all PNC Arena events, including Cameron. We are grateful for her endorsement and that she connected us to our community in a new way.”

KultureCity, a non-profit organisation with experience of working with the special needs and sensory sensitive population in community settings, has partnered with the Hurricanes and PNC Arena to launch the program.

KultureCity’s certification process has provided PNC Arena staff with training that allows them to recognise and accommodate guests with sensory needs.

Events at PNC Arena will continue to go ahead with the same pre-programmed sound levels and special effects, but venue staff will now be on hand to assist those that may become overstimulated.

The arena will also have unique guidelines in place for fans with sensory processing needs. Sensory bags, weighted lap pads and photosensitivity glasses will also be available at no extra cost. Bags will include a special badge for guest recognition, fidget tools, noise-cancelling headphones and other resources.

In addition, a quiet area will be available on request to provide fans with a more relaxed environment should they become overwhelmed.

KultureCity founder Dr. Julian Maha said: “As more and more individuals are affected by sensory processing challenges today, such as PTSD, autism and strokes, we are excited to introduce the KultureCity training and certification to PNC Arena, providing families in Raleigh, North Carolina and the surrounding areas an opportunity to enjoy their outings with more confidence and acceptance.”

Earlier this year, KultureCity signed a similar partnership with NBA basketball team the Cleveland Cavaliers. A quiet space sensory room was introduced at the team’s Quicken Loans Arena as part of the agreement.

Image: Doug Kerr