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Iowa Events Center awarded certification for sensory inclusive venue

The room at the venue has different sensory features for those who have invisible disabilities like autism, PTSD or dementia.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Events Center is the first of its kind in the state to earn a sensory inclusive certification through the group KultureCity, but what does that mean exactly? 

In short, it means easier accommodations for people with sensory issues or invisible disabilities, like autism, PTSD or dementia. 

"When you have a child that, you know, requires an ability to be able to decompress and they get overstimulated with their senses and you don't have this option, what ends up happening is when that kid gets overwhelmed then families end up going home," said Jennifer Ulie-Wells, executive director of Please Pass the Love. "This allows people to still stay and participate when otherwise they may not have been able to."

A press release from Spectra, the operators of the Iowa Events Center, says the certification process through KultureCity "involved identifying quiet areas and headphone zones through the facility, taking photos for our social story on the KultureCity app, and staff members successfully completing training from leading medical professionals."

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Training completed by Spectra staff and staff for the Iowa Wild, Iowa Wolves and Iowa Barnstormers taught how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.

The facility is stocked with sensory bags that include noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools and verbal cue cards. Those can be found at the administration office or the guest services office.

“Spectra’s goal, along with our partners at Polk County, has always been to continue to find ways to make all guests feel welcome and comfortable in our facility,” said Spectra’s Haleigh Biancalana, Director of Events for the Iowa Events Center. “By partnering with KultureCity and Please Pass the Love we are able to provide resources for those guests with sensory sensitivities.”

Before attending an event, families can download the free KultureCity app to see what sensory features are available and where they can find them. 

“Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Iowa Event Center 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 them to provide a truly inclusive experience for all fans and guests!” said Uma Srivastava, Executive Director for KultureCity.

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