The hub includes a Cubbie Booth sensory solution and will be accessible to all fans attending matches including the upcoming Six Nations home fixtures.
In Ireland, one in 20 people have sensory issues such as ADHD, dyspraxia and SPD, while one in 50 has been diagnosed with autism.
The spectrum disorder, which includes Asperger’s, affects everyone differently but is usually characterised by difficulty with social interaction and communication.
“The stadium can be a very overwhelming environment for people with sensory issues and Aviva want to try and help to combat that,” Aviva Sponsorship Manager Lisa Bergin told Sport for Business yesterday. She has led the way on bringing different elements to the stadium including lighting it up for Pride last June using new technology installed as part of the stadium hosting of the Euro’s this summer.
“We are in constant communication with stadium management and it arose at one point last year that there was a regular request from fans as to whether there was anything to help those who wanted to go but found it a difficult environment.”
“Our Dublin Charity Partner Temple Street Children’s Hospital has a room similar to what we have created here and the idea began to take hold.”
“There was a space which we had not used for quite a few years on the concourse of Level one and once we began to spec out what was needed it was a perfect fit. It’s not big but it has the capacity to house the cubby Booth and now anyone who has a profile on the sounds, music and lighting that calms them in the Hospital can enter their details and find their ‘comfort space’ recreated.”
The room delivers a total sensory management system, which reduces sensory overload and disruption. The booth is free for any fan to use during their visit to Aviva stadium and will be open for the first time at Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations game against Scotland.
The Aviva Stadium becomes the Dublin Stadium for the hosting of the Euro’s this summer but it has to be hoped that an accommodation can be made to allow the service to still be used even if some adjustments in the promotion might need to be agreed between UEFA, the stadium and Aviva.
“As a company, Aviva strives to promote a culture of diversity and inclusivity and we are delighted to work with everyone at the stadium to make this project come to life,” added Bergin.
Ireland soccer international James McClean was there yesterday as part of the launch together with his two-year-old daughter Willow who does not handle the buzz of a stadium as well as his two older children.
“My two eldest kids love coming to see me play, but for my youngest daughter Willow, it’s a different experience,” he said.
“She doesn’t like crowds or any very busy or noisy places. Football games, which are such a huge part of our lives, are quite overwhelming for her. A facility like the Aviva Sensory Hub will make all the difference for her and many other people with sensory needs when coming to matches.”
Autism became the lead item on the news agenda yesterday following comments made in the General Election arena. they raised people’s awareness but like any news cycle it quickly moves on.
The Aviva Sensory hub will be hear long after the headlines have rolled down and it is a huge credit to all involved that it’s simple message of providing a space for those who need it will open up the sporting experience to individuals and families that would not otherwise be able to come with any degree of confidence.
One of the best initiatives of the year to date.
The Sport for Business Sport for Social Good Report and Conference 2020 will take place in Dublin in September. Contact us if you are interested in being part of what has become a very important statement on the positive relationship between sport and business.
Image Credit: Ramsey Cardy, Sportsfile