Overland Park first convention center in the world to open KultureCity approved sensory room for neurodiverse, autistic attendees
Overland Park, Kan.—A fully-equipped sensory room is now available at the Overland Park Convention Center for neurodiverse, autistic and disabled individuals. In partnership with non-profit KultureCity, the sensory room is a dedicated space created by medical professionals with reduced lighting and noise for guests who may feel overstimulated and need a more secure environment.
The sensory room is located at the venue’s Exhibition Hall A entrance on the upper level, and is complete with bean bags, visual light panels, bubble walls, activity panels, and a custom tactile art piece created by an autistic artist.
“We believe in inclusion at every game, event, organization so certifying Overland Park Convention Center was amazing; not only that, to build out the first KultureCity certified sensory room at a convention center was remarkable,” said Uma Srivastava, executive director of KultureCity. “Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Overland Park Convention Center is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”
The Overland Park Convention Center first achieved a Sensory Inclusive certification with KultureCity in Aug. 2021, making all programs and events hosted at the venue sensory inclusive.
The certification process equipped convention center staff by training with leading medical professionals to recognize attendees with sensory needs, and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, anxiety, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions.
“After completing our certification and learning so much about the challenges faced by this community, creating a sensory room was a logical next step for us,” said Brett C. Mitchell, general manager of the Overland Park Convention Center. “One of the major barriers for these individuals is over stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in event venues. With this initiative, the convention center is better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities so they can attend and feel comfortable.”
Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads are also available to all guests at the convention center who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.
Prior to attending an event, families can download the free KultureCity App to see what sensory features are available at the convention center and where they can be accessed. The apps ‘Social Story’ feature also provides a preview of what to expect while at the venue.
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs, not just those with autism.
To learn more about the Overland Park Convention Center’s sensory room, please visit opconventioncenter.com/sensory-inclusive-events or call 913.339.3000. To learn more about KultureCity, please visit kulturecity.org.
Overland Park Convention Center: 6000 College Boulevard, Overland Park, KS 66211
About Overland Park Convention Center
The award-winning Overland Park Convention Center opened in November of 2002 on a 26-acre site in the heart of Overland Park, the largest suburban city in the Kansas City metropolitan and the second largest city in Kansas. Adorned with over sixty original works of are and equipped with state-of-the-art communications systems, the 245,000 square floor complex features a 60,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall that connects to the 25,000 sq. ft. Edwin C. Eilert Ballroom and 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting room space. Natural light radiates throughout the unusually spacious (44,000 sq. ft.) pre-function and registration areas. Among the convention centers many awards, the most recent include: 2021 Best Customer Service & On-Site Support in North America, EXHBITOR Magazine, 2020 Best Small Convention Center in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2020-2021 Top Convention Centers in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2019 Best Convention Centers in North America, Business View Magazine; 2002 – 2021 Best Meeting & Conference Facility, Ingram’s Magazine; 2018 – 2021 Prime Site Award, Facilities & Destinations Magazine
Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 350 sensory-inclusive venues in 4 countries: this includes special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl and MLB All Star Weekend. KultureCity has won many awards for its efforts, including the NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2017 and the 2018 Clio Sports Silver for social good in partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers/Quicken Loans Arena. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Quiet Space Sensory Room at Quicken Loans Arena was a finalist for the 2018 Stadium Business Award, and recently, KultureCity was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 by FastCompany.