Vancouver, BC - Canucks Sports & Entertainment announced today that starting April 3rd, Rogers Arena will become an "Autism Aware" facility, introducing services and resources to support fans living with autism as they attend Canucks games, concerts and other events. Provided by the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), this designation makes Rogers Arena the first NHL arena in Canada to comprehensively feature autism accessibility. In celebration of these new initiatives, the Vancouver Canucks will be recognizing World Autism Awareness Day with many in-game elements against the Vegas Golden Knights on April 3rd.
"Starting April 3rd we are excited to announce that through our partnership with the Canucks Autism Network, Rogers Arena will have increased measures to support our guests with sensory needs and can provide more options when they feel overwhelmed by the environment during Canucks games, concerts and events," said Jeff Stipec, Chief Operating Officer, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. "It is through these procedures that we can continue to elevate the fan experience and offer an inclusive, accessible, safe and fun environment for all of our guests at Rogers Arena."
Resources now available at Rogers Arena to fans living with autism include:
- Sensory Kits at each Guest Services location to assist individuals with sensory sensitivities. Each kit contains noise-blocking earphones generously donated by Honeywell for loan, a sensory toy, ID bracelet, a Visual Storybook, arena map and game-night timeline.
- Approximately 55 Rogers Arena Event Staff have received Canucks Autism Network training on how to recognize autism and how to best interact and communicate with those on the spectrum.
- The existing Fan Text Service is now set up to dispatch trained staff to provide support where needed to fans with autism.
- A Quiet Room is available for fans with sensory sensitivities, based on availability and by request.
- Visual and Video Storybooks for fans to better prepare themselves for what to expect while attending Canucks games - available on canucks.com, rogersarena.com and canucksautism.ca
"From a young age, my son has been a huge Vancouver Canucks fan," said Tina Chiao, a longtime Canucks Autism Network parent. "But as a child with autism, he faces significant sensory sensitivities and behavioural difficulties that make attending Canucks games a major challenge. These new initiatives give us peace of mind as a family and will create new possibilities for us to make lifelong memories attending Rogers Arena events."
World Autism Awareness Day will be recognized by the Vancouver Canucks in-game on April 3rd with many in-game features. CAN Ambassador Jacob Markstrom will wear a custom-designed mask that was a result of a creative contest that CAN hosted earlier this year. The mask will later be auctioned off by CAN in support of their province-wide programs. In addition, the anthem singer for the night will be Dylan Okimaw, a 13-year-old boy from Kelowna who lives with autism. Fans will also notice commemorative CAN stickers on the backs of all player helmets, lapel pins on all Canucks coaches and broadcasters, extra blue lighting around the exterior or Rogers Arena (the internationally recognized colour of autism), an intermission Tim Hortons minor hockey game featuring CAN's Vancouver Orcas hockey team and a number of special elements throughout the evening that provide and highlight unique opportunities for kids living with autism and their families.
"We are overjoyed to introduce autism accessibility at Rogers Arena," said Katy Harandi, President and CEO of Canucks Autism Network. "These initiatives will ensure that fans living with autism and their entire families will be understood, accepted and accommodated at Rogers Arena events."
Video: Rogers Arena is Now an Official Autism Aware Facility
About Canucks Autism Network
Founded in 2008 by Vancouver Canucks Co-owners Paolo and Clara Aquilini, Canucks Autism Network (CAN) provides year-round sports and recreation programs to individuals and families living with autism, while increasing awareness and providing training in communities across British Columbia. Last year, CAN delivered 491 programs across BC. CAN currently supports over 3,900 individuals and families living with autism and relies on over 600 dedicated volunteers and over 280 trained staff on an annual basis to deliver their sports and rec programs province-wide.
Autism is diagnosed based on difficulties with social communication and behavior, though there is significant variability among individuals that share the autism diagnosis. An estimated 1 in 68 children has autism with more than 11,000 youth living with autism in British Columbia alone. It is 5 times more common in boys than in girls.