Philadelphia Eagles Move the Chains on Autism Outreach
This season, the Philadelphia Eagles became one of the first sports franchises to build a state-of-the-art sensory room in its home venue of Lincoln Financial Field.
Bright lights, crowds, sudden cheering—even for a neurotypical person, a sporting event can be a lot to take. But for those with sensory sensitivities, it can be beyond overwhelming.
This season, the Philadelphia Eagles have made that easier, becoming one of the first sports franchises to build a state-of-the-art sensory room in its home venue of Lincoln Financial Field. The 500-square-foot sensory room was created in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), who is also a founding beneficiary partner of the Eagles Autism Challenge. Medical professionals helped design the room to ensure a quieter and more secure environment for those with sensory challenges. Guests who are having difficulty can retreat to this room at the stadium and find a quiet place to sit, play, and relax. The walls have fun tactile surfaces that can be manipulated by guests, and there are plenty of soft seating areas and resources available like fidgets, noise-canceling headphones, and weighted lap pads.
Jeffrey Lurie, Chairman and CEO of the Philadelphia Eagles, remarked, “It is truly heartwarming to know that this state-of-the-art sensory room will now provide a sense of ease and comfort for families and loved ones who may be experiencing sensory challenges at Lincoln Financial Field. In this moment, we are creating a major shift from autism awareness to action, and it is all thanks to our compassionate and caring fans, Eagles Autism Challenge supporters, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the autism community around the world.”
In addition to the creation of the sensory room, Eagles employees and Lincoln Financial Field staff Eagles employees and Lincoln Financial Field staff underwent training by medical professionals on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags are also made available to all guests as part of their experience.
To make their stadium and game experience more inclusive the Eagles also reached out to KultureCity, a non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs. Prior to attending an event at Lincoln Financial Field, guests are encouraged to download the KultureCity app to gain a better understanding of what sensory features are available and where they can be accessed. An interactive social story on the app will provide a preview of what guests can expect while enjoying the stadium experience at Lincoln Financial Field.
This addition is yet another step the Eagles are taking to help change the lives of those with autism. Every year, they host the Eagles Autism Challenge, an event dedicated to raising funds for innovative autism research and programs. The event features a one-day bike ride and family-friendly 5K run/walk. 100 percent of participant-raised funds will go toward autism research and programs. The next event will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2020.
Ryan Hammond, Executive Director of the Eagles Autism Challenge, explains, “As a founding beneficiary of the Eagles Autism Challenge and committed partner of the Eagles, CHOP’s year-round support enables us to do great things for the Philadelphia community. Thanks to their collaboration and overall investment in our new sensory room, the lives of thousands of families attending an event at Lincoln Financial Field will now be fully transformed.”
Photographs courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles.