Hawks open sensory-friendly room


On World Autism Awareness Day (2 April 2019), Hawthorn Football Club, in partnership with Afford, celebrated the launch of the Afford Sensory Friendly Space, the first sensory friendly space available at Melbourne’s iconic MCG.

Footy fans with sensory sensitivity can now cheer on their favourite team thanks to the new and specially designed space.

Visitors to the space will have the opportunity to watch the game via a separate big screen and TVs with reduced noise.

The inclusive space caters to children and adults with sensory sensitivities and is designed to reduce the sensory overload that people with autism can experience, including screaming fans, crowd noise, sirens and loud music.

The room incorporates both calming and stimulating zones, a cocoon area for visitors to chill out and relax, bean bags, air cushions, cuddle balls, comfortable seating and a light wave floor.

Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves said the Afford Sensory Friendly Space supported the club’s vision to be inclusive and welcoming place for people of all backgrounds.

“The Afford Sensory Friendly Space is a fantastic opportunity for the club to promote inclusiveness, positivity and social change amongst the football community,” Reeves said.

“We launched the room for the first time in Round 2 and it was fantastic to see families utilising the space and its offerings.”

Afford (The Australian Foundation for Disability) is a not-for-profit disability service organisation that provides whole-of-life disability supports for people across Australia under the NDIS.

Afford CEO, Steven Herald, said the partnership with Hawthorn can provide more inclusive opportunities for people of all abilities and needs.

"Footy fans with sensory needs and their families may have previously stayed home to avoid over stimulation at the game due to loud noises and crowded areas," Mr Herald said.

"Now, they, and their families, can come and support their team in a space that caters to their sensory needs."

"Our partnership with the Hawks this year has presented many opportunities for us to provide new life experiences for people living with disability and sensory needs in Victoria. We are proud to be part of a genuine experience that supports inclusive opportunity for all."

The Afford Sensory Friendly Space will be located in the Yarra Room at the MCG for Hawthorn’s clash against Geelong this Monday, 22 April 2019. The space can be accessed by all footy fans with general admission tickets by entering via Gate 3 and going up the lifts to level 3.

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