Minnesota Twins launch sensory room for neuroatypical fans

The Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball franchise has partnered with UnitedHealthcare to open a new sensory suite at Target Field for neuroatypical fans.

The wide-ranging partnership is aimed at enhancing inclusivity both at Target Field and in youth sports. The UnitedHealthcare Sensory Suite will open at the start of the 2022 MLB season.

Neuroatypical is a term used to describe people of atypical developmental, intellectual and cognitive abilities, and refers to individuals with autism or another developmental difference.

The suite will be located on the newly-renamed UnitedHealthcare suite level. The former ‘Suite 1’ has been completely renovated, reimagined and equipped to deliver a welcoming, compatible experience for neuroatypical guests who may need temporary respite during Twins games.

The suite will feature unique separated spaces specifically designed to meet different needs, including those of children and adults, and will be set up to ease guests’ transition back to their ticketed seats through a controlled outdoor area overlooking the field.

The Twins said the outdoor option makes Target Field’s sensory area among a “select few” professional sports venues in the US to have a view of the playing surface. Staff members have also been individually trained to deliver appropriate and diverse assistance.

UnitedHealthcare worked with Fraser, a Minnesota-based company that provides individualised programmes for families with special needs, to develop the suite. The Twins, UnitedHealthcare and Fraser will provide sensory kits for guests to check out, free of charge, at guest services stations throughout Target Field.

As part of the Twins’ agreement with UnitedHealthcare, youth baseball and softball coaches throughout the region will have the opportunity to learn specialised techniques to help neuroatypical children.

Dave St. Peter, president and chief executive of the Twins, said: “The Minnesota Twins truly believe that baseball brings communities together and makes them stronger. Every time we open the gates at Target Field, each time we help our kids play baseball or softball, we do so with the conviction that our game is for everybody.

“We are proud to partner with UnitedHealthcare on important steps to make that vision a reality, as together we work to ensure that all are recognised, accepted and welcome at Target Field and on the diamond.”

UnitedHealthcare chief executive Brian Thompson added: “The Twins and UnitedHealthcare share a commitment to the Minnesota community and a passion to create positive change. We look forward to partnering on programmes to support children and families in our community, and appreciate the opportunity to play a role in providing a more welcoming environment at Target Field for people of all abilities. Together, we can truly take everyone out to the ballgame.”

Image: Terry Foote/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size