Footy fans with sensory sensitivity can now cheer on their favourite team at Melbourne’s MCG, thanks to the inclusion of the first Sensory Friendly Space within the stadium.

Developed in partnership between Afford (The Australian Foundation for Disability) and Hawthorn FC, this new feature provides more inclusive opportunities for people of all abilities and needs. 

Afford CEO, Steven Herald, says that thanks to the partnership with Hawthorn FC, Afford can provide more inclusive opportunities for people of all abilities and needs.

“Footy fans with sensory needs and their families may have previously stayed home to avoid over stimulation at the game due to loud noises and crowded areas,” Mr Herald explained.

“Now, they, and their families, can come and support their team in a space that caters to their sensory needs.”

“Our partnership with the Hawks this year has presented many opportunities for us to provide new life experiences for people living with disability and sensory needs in Victoria. We are proud to be part of a genuine experience that supports inclusive opportunity for all.”

Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves said the Afford Sensory Friendly Space supported the club’s vision to be inclusive and welcoming for people of all backgrounds.  

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“The Afford Sensory Friendly Space is a fantastic opportunity for the Hawthorn Football Club to promote inclusiveness, positivity and social change amongst the football community,” Reeves said.

“We launched the room for the first time in Round 2 and it was fantastic to see so many families utilising the space and its offerings.”

The inclusive sensory friendly space caters to children and adults with sensory sensitivities and incorporates both calming and stimulating zones.

The room will have a calming space with sensory lighting and visual displays, a cocoon area for visitors to chill out and relax, bean bags, air cushion, cuddle ball, comfortable seating and a lightwave floor, and activities such as colouring and putty. 

Visitors to the sensory space will also have the opportunity to watch the game on a separate large screen and TV screens with reduced noise.

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Afford’s Sensory Friendly Space in the Yarra Room at the MCG can be accessed by footy fans with general admission tickets by entering via Gate 3 and going up the lifts to level 3.

The room will be available for Hawks home games at the MCG on Sunday, 7th April, Monday, 22th April (Easter Monday), and Sunday, 12th May.