December saw Albion open the doors to its brand new Sensory Room prior to the Sky Bet Championship fixture against Rotherham United.
The safe space, located in the West Stand at The Hawthorns, has been designed to offer children on the autism spectrum the opportunity to watch a football match from an appropriate environment, providing a pathway to enjoying future games from the stands.
Created in partnership with students and staff from the University of Worcester, the Sensory Room has a range of interactive stimuli, including lights, colours, soft play, special flooring, toys and even the option for live crowd noise to be played through speakers.
Importantly, stadium seats have also been installed, meaning the kids and their parents or carers can see the Baggies in action through the giant sound-proof glass window.
None of it would have been possible without the kind donations from H&S Electrical Wholesalers, We Clean, CEF and HB Flooring – and the hard work from Albion staff members.
“Back in 2017 we made The Hawthorns fully accessible for all disabilities, but then we started to concentrate on hidden disabilities,” said Albion’s Head of Health, Safety & Facilities Management, Chris Harris.
“Through our work with Occupational Therapist Alison Double and University of Worcester students, they educated us on autism especially, and we looked at what we could do to turn The Hawthorns into an autism-friendly stadium.
“I was knocked out by the reaction of kids from Hamilton School when they attended for the first time over the World Cup break. That made it all worthwhile. We’ve waited for a while to get the right facility, but it’s here now. I must thank our sponsors, as well as Rich Page and the facilities team, for all of their efforts.”
Children and their carers can attend up to two fixtures to help ease them into the football experience, and the Sensory Room can be booked through The Albion Foundation.
A full video on the creation of the room and a look at what happened when Hamilton School pupils visited it for the first time is available to watch above on WBA TV.