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soccer, autism, inclusion

Luke Howard works in the sensory room at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

One of the positive hallmarks of the 21st century is humanity's increased openness and acceptance of our differences. We still have a ways to go, but we've come far in reducing stigmas and challenging stereotypes, as well as creating welcoming spaces for diverse abilities and identities.

Sometimes a welcoming space goes beyond simply saying, "You are welcome here" and ensuring a person will be safe and accepted. For some kinds of differences, specific accommodations are necessary to enable someone to truly feel welcome in all of their neurodiverse uniqueness.

This week, a dad shared a story of what such accommodations recently looked like for his autistic son at a U.K. football game.

Twitter user @TheresYourDC ("Dave") wrote:

"Last night I took my son to Arsenal for his first match. He was buzzing all day for it. I wasn't sure if it he'd ever go as he has autism. Once we were in the ground he struggled with about 50,000 people shouting and was having a hard time. Halfway through the 1st half I could see he wasn't going to get used to it so we had to leave.


When we left the stadium, a steward (blonde lady, wish I got her name), asked why we were leaving and I told her. She asked me to hold on and contacted someone else. Next thing I know, we're being walked towards club level. They've got a sensory room there where we could watch the rest of the match. The bloke running the room, Luke Howard, was fantastic with everyone in there & between him & the stewards that helped, turned the night into a great memory. Thank you @Arsenal."


Sensory rooms are spaces away from the loud noises in a stadium, which can be overstimulating for many, but especially for neurodivergent people. Autism can make people more sensitive to persistent sounds, and sensory overload makes crowds tricky to manage. That doesn't mean an autistic person wouldn't want to go to a live sporting event; it just means accommodations that give them a break from the constant stimuli can make the experience more enjoyable for them.

Arsenal responded to Dave's tweet with pride in their club's sensory room.

A few years ago, Upworthy spoke with Julian Maha, co-founder of autism inclusion non-profit KultureCity, about the value of sensory accommodations. Maha explained that a sensory-inclusive space is one that provides accommodations with little to no impact on anyone else's experience. If a person at a game is experiencing sensory overload, a sensory room gives them a place to go where they can still enjoy the game without as much stimulus.

Arsenal has had a sensory room since 2017 and describes it on the team website:

"Arsenal are passionate about improving stadium facilities for people with sensory processing needs such as Autism, and the opening of our Sensory Room and Sensory Sensitive viewing room in September 2017 has supported many fans to be able to attend matches at The Emirates Stadium.

The facility incorporates a match viewing room which has measures in place to create a safe, calm and comfortable environment with reduced sensory stimuli to experience matches as well as a separate Sensory Room which comprises of a range of specialist equipment which supporters can transition between as needed, all managed by specially appointed staff."

Maha said the most important element of inclusion is making sure staff are trained to know when accommodations might be needed, which was clearly the case at the Arsenal stadium. Bravo.

For autistic people and others with sensory issues, these spaces can make all the difference. "They view the world differently and they take in the world differently from us, but their wants and needs are still similar," Maha said. "They still seek acceptance and inclusion, they want to be part of the community and it's our mission to help embrace them regardless of their differences."

Its great to see so many sports teams and public venues making space for everyone to feel truly welcome and included.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

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You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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