An updated sensory room has been unveiled at Lumen Field, home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders.
Originally launched in 2019, the sensory room has been renamed Ben’s Room after the son of John and Traci Schneider. Ben Schneider was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and Traci and John launched the Ben’s Fund charity in 2012.
The Schneiders have since helped raise more than $4.9m (£4.6m/€5m) and given out more than 2,900 grants to families affected by autism. Lumen Field’s sensory room was originally spearheaded by Traci Schneider.
The room is designed to better support guests with sensory needs. The updates will include more training for event staff working in the room, which provides a safe and calming space for guests who may become overwhelmed by the noise and excitement of a game day.
To oversee the renovation of the sensory room, the Seahawks partnered with KultureCity, a non-profit company which provides sensory accessibility services for people with invisible disabilities.
The newly remodelled Ben’s Room has been fitted with 100% recycled soundproof carpet along the floor and walls, as well as new activity panels, bean bags, visual light panels, interactive lighting, bubble walls, and original artwork from Ben Schneider.
KultureCity has also facilitated training for more than 400 game-day staff at Lumen Field. The training, which has been led by medical professionals, teaches staff how to recognise guests and fans with sensory needs, as well as how to handle sensory overload situations.
Traci Schneider said: “That’s so valuable, especially for the parents and obviously the kiddo or adults (with sensory needs), because it’s hard when you go into public with someone who is going to be viewed as not typical and you get the stares and you get the looks.
“Just having that little bit of understanding is massive. And that’s one thing John and I talked about a lot too over the years is not only creating awareness, but creating understanding. That understanding is massive, because then you have a further knowledge that there might be something else going on that you’re not fully comprehending.”
Karen Wilkins-Mickey, president of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Seahawks, added: “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 game day 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.”
KultureCity’s chief operating officer Uma Srivastava will be one of the judges at this year’s TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Awards.