BC Lions introduce autism-friendly program for home games

Jul 19 2017, 8:56 pm

The BC Lions have taken another step to make home games more accessible for children.

Partnering with the Pacific Autism Family Network, the Lions unveiled the GAMECHANGERS  program on Wednesday, which has the goal of ensuring a better experience for fans on the autism spectrum at all home games.

The program, a first in the CFL, gives families that are part of the Pacific Autism Family Network the opportunity to request tickets and be seated in a “thoughtfully selected reserve area.”

Every fan with autism or a related disorder will receive a ‘toolkit’ containing items to make the game more user friendly, including noise cancelling headphones, earplugs, sensory toys, and a visual schedule for game day.

“As anyone in our organization will tell you, football is all about family,” said Lions VP of business George Chayka. “We are both proud and honoured to have an opportunity to join with the Pacific Autism Family Network and bring the joy, excitement and fun of BC Lions football to those who would not normally be able to attend games. Our community is stronger when we go the extra yard to be inclusive and the GAMECHANGER program is a perfect example of what we can achieve together.”

Autism affects about 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 among boys, which is a number that is on the rise.

The Pacific Autism Family Network is a charitable organization with a mandate to serve the lifespan needs of individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and all related disorders.

“There are so many families in BC who unfortunately cannot attend stadium events because it can be too overwhelming for our loved ones with autism or related disorders,” said Pacific Autism Family Network co-founder Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia. “We have such an incredible community partner in the BC Lions; they truly want to ensure an inclusive and fun experience for everyone.”

The Lions, who play their next home game on Friday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, also introduced a $5 ticket promotion for children 12 and under for home games until the end of August.

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