English Premier League football club Watford has celebrated the first anniversary of its Sensory Room at Vicarage Road.
The room was opened in December 2016 to help young Watford supporters who struggle to cope with large crowds and noise levels at the stadium.
The Sensory Room includes a viewing area with a view of the pitch and a separate calming area with several sensory features.
According to the club, more than 40 families have attended a match in the room, most of whom were visiting Vicarage Road for the first time and some of whom have now transitioned into general areas of the stadium.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Sara Lavender, who was a season ticket holder before joining the club’s matchday staff. She also has a background in working with children on the autism spectrum.
“The families really value having a space where their children can enjoy the game, which they’d have been previously unable to do. The icing on the cake is knowing that we have helped families who had never been to a match become regulars, with the barriers to their attendance having been broken down by the time they’ve spent in the room.”
Three further Premier League clubs have since opened rooms and Watford recently hosted a working group from the organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as they look to include sensory facilities at the stadia being developed for the tournament.