NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Furthering Vanderbilt’s commitment to creating an inclusive game-day experience for everyone in Commodore Nation, the university announced the installation of sensory rooms inside Memorial Gymnasium and FirstBank Stadium. Supported by Shan Foster, Vanderbilt is working together with globally recognized nonprofit KultureCity on training and implementation of the first certified sensory rooms in any SEC athletic venues that will serve fans with sensory needs attending basketball and football games, as well as baseball games in neighboring Hawkins Field.
“I am proud that Vanderbilt leads the way in creating a sensory-inclusive experience for everyone attending games and events in FirstBank Stadium, Hawkins Field and Memorial Gymnasium,” said Vanderbilt vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director Candice Storey Lee. “Commodore Nation is strongest together, as a community that welcomes all and benefits from the diversity of our experiences. Coming together to watch Commodores compete for championships is the ultimate shared memory, and I’m grateful to Shan Foster and KultureCity for helping us to ensure all fans feel welcome and supported when they visit.”
An estimated one in six people in the United States have sensory processing needs. Examples of fellow community members who may experience sensory challenges include individuals with autism, chronic pain disorders, sensory processing disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation can be aggravated by the overstimulation and noise frequently found at sporting events, making it difficult for these fans and their friends and family members to participate in communal experiences.
Designed by medical professionals, sensory rooms like those available in Memorial Gymnasium and FirstBank Stadium provide a quiet and safe environment for those in need. Vanderbilt’s sensory rooms will feature bean bags, light-up walls and cubes, activity panels, bubble walls and custom art pieces.
Additionally, sensory bags will be available upon request for baseball, basketball and football games. These bags include a KCVIP lanyard, noise canceling headphones, verbal cue cards and feeling thermometer, fidget tools, and weighted lap pads. As part of KultureCity certification, staff members in both venues also receive training on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.
“Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that Vanderbilt University is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing. We’re honored to partner with Vanderbilt Athletics to provide a truly inclusive experience for all fans and guests!” Uma Srivastava, Executive Director, KultureCity.
The Foster and Brown Family Sensory Room in Memorial Gym is located next to the Vanderbilt Bookstore in the Gate 4 (Northeast Entrance) lobby, while the FirstBank Stadium/Hawkins Field Sensory Room is located at the east concourse first aid room by Section P.
Prior to attending a game, families can download the free KultureCity App and review what sensory features are available and where they can access them.
A nonprofit organization, KultureCity’s Sensory Inclusive Certification is available to venues, organizations, small businesses or caring individuals who want to learn more about sensory needs and how to better engage with individuals with sensory needs. KultureCity and the NFL recently partnered to make sensory rooms available during Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona. It has also worked with numerous professional sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors and Tennessee Titans, as well as venues including Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.