Rogers Arena is now an Austim Aware facility, as services and resources will be provided to support fans living with autism as they attend arena events. That includes Vancouver Canucks games, concerts, and other gatherings.
Provided by the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), this designation makes Rogers Arena the first NHL arena in Canada to comprehensively feature autism accessibility. In celebration of these new initiatives, the Canucks recognized World Autism Awareness Day with many in-game elements during their matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights on April 3.
“Starting April 3rd we are excited to announce that through our partnership with the Canucks Autism Network, Rogers Arena will have increased measures to support our guests with sensory needs and can provide more options when they feel overwhelmed by the environment during Canucks games, concerts and events,” said Jeff Stipec, Chief Operating Officer, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. “It is through these procedures that we can continue to elevate the fan experience and offer an inclusive, accessible, safe and fun environment for all of our guests at Rogers Arena.”
Resources now available at Rogers Arena to fans living with autism include:
- Sensory Kits at each Guest Services location to assist individuals with sensory sensitivities. Each kit contains noise-blocking earphones generously donated by Honeywell for loan, a sensory toy, ID bracelet, a Visual Storybook, arena map and game-night timeline.
- Approximately 55 Rogers Arena Event Staff have received Canucks Autism Network training on how to recognize autism and how to best interact and communicate with those on the spectrum.
- The existing Fan Text Service is now set up to dispatch trained staff to provide support where needed to fans with autism.
- A Quiet Room is available for fans with sensory sensitivities, based on availability and by request.
- Visual and Video Storybooks for fans to better prepare themselves for what to expect while attending Canucks games – available on canucks.com, rogersarena.com and canucksautism.ca
“From a young age, my son has been a huge Vancouver Canucks fan,” said Tina Chiao, a longtime Canucks Autism Network parent. “But as a child with autism, he faces significant sensory sensitivities and behavioural difficulties that make attending Canucks games a major challenge. These new initiatives give us peace of mind as a family and will create new possibilities for us to make lifelong memories attending Rogers Arena events.”
World Autism Awareness Day was recognized by the Canucks in-game on April 3. CAN Ambassador Jacob Markstrom wore wear a custom-designed mask that was a result of a creative contest that CAN hosted earlier this year, with the mask auctioned off by CAN in support of their province-wide programs. In addition, the anthem singer was Dylan Okimaw, a 13-year-old boy from Kelowna who lives with autism.
“We are overjoyed to introduce autism accessibility at Rogers Arena,” said Katy Harandi, President and CEO of Canucks Autism Network. “These initiatives will ensure that fans living with autism and their entire families will be understood, accepted and accommodated at Rogers Arena events.”