AWS Foundation, in collaboration with the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Embassy Theatre, Arts United and the Fort Wayne TinCaps, to provide sensory friendly kits at events available to individuals of all ages with sensory needs. The kits are designed to support individuals and families when attending events where loud noises, bright lights and unfamiliar surroundings can make it difficult to enjoy the experience. Sensory friendly kits are available to check out on request and are recycled for use by others at future events.
“Every member of our community should have equal opportunity to enjoy the many wonderful events and venues Fort Wayne has to offer,” says Tom O’Neill, AWS Foundation Board Chair. “For this to happen, individuals with sensory challenges need a variety of adaptive tools to help with loud noises, bright lights and close spaces. The goal of this sensory friendly kit is to provide much needed support to individuals and families so they can have the best possible experience when attending an event.”
Patti Hays, CEO of AWS Foundation states, “In celebration of AWS Foundation’s 10th Anniversary, we have developed these sensory friendly kits to advance efforts to be a fully inclusive community. While each partner venue is “ADA Compliant” it’s important to recognize that many disabilities do not affect physical access or mobility. To be inclusive and fully accessible, adaptive tools to support sensory needs are necessary. While we are kicking off the program in March as part of Disabilities Awareness Month, it’s important to understand and support the needs of those living with a disability every day of the year.”
Sensory friendly kits will be available beginning April 1st at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Embassy Theatre, Arts United and the Fort Wayne TinCaps games along with many other events held at Parkview Field. Inquire at guest services to check out a kit. AWS Foundation sees this ongoing program as another opportunity to address unmet needs of individuals with disabilities in the community and hopes that participation will spread to other venues throughout the area.
Mike Nutter, TinCaps Team President stated, “When AWS Foundation approached us with this opportunity we were excited to have this resource available to our fans. We pride ourselves in being able to accommodate as many attendee needs as possible and this will be an important addition to what we’re able to offer at Parkview Field, thanks to the generosity of AWS Foundation.”
Sensory friendly kits contain noise reducing headphones, several small fidget items, a communications deck, identification wristband, a weighted comfort item and sanitizing wipes. Each item was chosen to answer needs identified by individuals and families when attending an event in a public venue.
“We are thrilled to be involved in this community-wide effort to make the guest experience more inclusive and friendly to those with sensory disabilities,” said Randy L. Brown, CVE, Executive Vice President & General Manager of the Memorial Coliseum. “Welcoming more than one million visitors per year to an extraordinary variety of events, we look forward to serving guests with these new kits.”
“The sensory friendly kits provide an invaluable support for families attending events at the Embassy Theatre. We are excited about this project and very thankful to AWS Foundation for creating the kits,” said John Hughey, Embassy Theatre’s Marketing Director.