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PNC Arena, Carolina Hurricanes announce launch of new sensory inclusive initiative

Thanks to the work of a local high school student, people with sensory processing challenges can take advantage of new resources and accommodations at all games, shows and events at the PNC Arena.

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Ed Sheeran
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Thanks to the work of a local high school student, people with sensory processing challenges can take advantage of new resources and accommodations at all games, shows and events at the PNC Arena.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, which manages the arena, announced today the launch of a new sensory inclusive program that's been developed in collaboration with KultureCity, a startup nonprofit that rethinks accessibility to create acceptance and inclusion for individuals of all abilities.

With guidance from KultureCity, PNC Arena will now have new resources for those with sensory processing needs, who may have trouble with noise and lights during an event, according to a press release. The resources will be available at all events at the PNC Arena, including Carolina Hurricanes games, N.C. State men’s basketball games, concerts and family shows.

Those new resources are:

  • Sensory bags, weighted lap pads and photosensitivity glasses, which will be available at Guest Services in Section 127 for guests to check-out at no cost. Bags will include a special badge for guest recognition, fidget tools, noise-canceling headphones and other resources.
  • a quiet area, which will be available to guests upon request. They will be escorted to a designated room that's designed for those that may become overstimulated during an event.

PNC Arena part-time and full-time staff members also went through KultureCity's certification program to recognize and accommodate guests with sensory needs. No changes are planned to the arena's sound levels and special effects as part of the new accommodations. Venue staff, however, can now help those who may become overstimulated thanks to the training. As part of the program, KultureCity certified the arena as "sensory inclusive."

Kids and adults on the autism spectrum often deal with sensory issues. According to the Autism Society of North Carolina, one in 58 eight-year-olds may be diagnosed with autism in the United States and about 65,000 people in North Carolina live with the disorder. Diagnoses are on the rise.

But those on the spectrum aren't the only ones struggling with sensory processing issues. People with PTSD or who have survived a stroke may also also be affected by sensory processing challenges, said Dr. Julian Maha, KultureCity founder.

“The sensory inclusive certification was born out of the desire for us to help businesses and community organizations better understand that simple accommodations can make a huge difference for those with sensory needs,” Maha said in a press release.

KultureCity has worked with other major arenas across the country, including the Moda Center, home to the Portland Trailblazers; Quicken Loans Arena, home to the Cleveland Cavaliers; Philips Arena, home to the Atlanta Hawks; and American Airlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat, according to KultureCity's website.
Local high school senior Cameron Jarvis proposed the program to Carolina Hurricanes management as a class project, according to the release. Cameron, who is on the autism spectrum, and her family recognized the value of being able to experience events like Hurricanes games and wanted to help others as well.

“The new program will allow us to better assist and accommodate guests with sensory processing needs,” said Don Waddell, president of the Hurricanes and Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, in the press release. “We want all guests to enjoy their experience at all PNC Arena events, including Cameron. We are grateful for her endorsement and that she connected us to our community in a new way.”


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