Nationals Park is now more welcoming for individuals with autism and other sensory sensitivities

Photo courtesy of the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals announced that it partnered with KultureCity to make Nationals Park and all of the programs and events that the ballpark hosts to be sensory inclusive. This new initiative promotes an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with a sensory issue that visit Nationals Park.

Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in a venue like Nationals Park. With its new certification, Nationals Park is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending any event at the ballpark.

“We are always working to make every fan’s experience at Nationals Park the best it can be,” said Alan Gottlieb, Chief Operating Officer, Lerner Sports. “Partnering with KultureCity and rolling out their training to our staff allows us to better serve our fans with sensory challenges. We hope that this will help encourage individuals and families to experience the energy and excitement of Washington Nationals baseball.”

There are various types of sensory needs: visual (difficulty processing sights), auditory (difficulty processing sounds), tactile (difficulty processing touch), vestibular (difficulty processing movement), and proprioception (difficulty processing body awareness). Via the Sensory Inclusive Initiative, KultureCity works with public entities within the community to make them sensory inclusive.

The certification process entailed the staff at Nationals Park being trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize those guests and fans with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads will also be available to all guests at the ballpark who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. These fans will also be able to have use of a dedicated sensory room designed by medical professionals for those who may need a quieter and more secure environment.

“To know that you soon will be able to see families attend a baseball game, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment. Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that Nationals Park is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing,” said Traci Johnson, Executive Director, KultureCity.

KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs; not just those with autism. In the past year alone, KultureCity has created several sensory inclusive venues and events including the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, 16 NBA arenas, 5 NFL stadiums, 5 NHL arenas and countless zoos, science centers and aquariums across the nation.

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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