Vulcan Park and Museum has partnered with Birmingham-based non-profit KultureCity to become a certified sensory-inclusive location.
What does ‘sensory inclusive’ mean?
To label something as being certified ‘sensory inclusive’ means that the area has been modified with – or those working there have been educated on – methods that are helpful to those attending who have autism, anxiety, or anything else that would cause them to be uncomfortable in situations with loud music, large groups of people and flashing lights.
How did this partnership come to be?
The Vulcan Community Awards
For the past five years, Vulcan Park and Museum has hosted The Vulcan Community Awards, an awards program that recognizes civic pride, progress and leadership in the Greater Birmingham Region. This event brought KultureCity and Vulcan Park together as KultureCity received an award at the 2017 The Vulcans Community Awards ceremony.
“We [honor] community leaders and people who are doing amazing things. Last year, the founders of KultureCity (Drs. Julian Maha and Michele Kong) received a Spear Award and so our relationship began.” -Casey Gamble, Museum Program Coordinator
Who is KultureCity?
KultureCity is a non-profit organization that started in Birmingham. Their goal is to make public spaces more accepting to everyone and equipped for members of the society who have sensory sensitivities. KultureCity partners with organizations, museums, music festivals, parks, NFL stadiums and others to achieve these goals.
After gaining understanding of the scope of services provided through KultureCity, Vulcan Park and Museum reached out to begin the certification process.
With this certification, Vulcan Park and Museum joins other venues in Birmingham, including Sloss Fest, who have partnered with KultureCity to become inclusive.
Awareness is Key
One of the biggest takeaways in learning about Vulcan Park’s process to becoming sensory-inclusive is the low level of difficulty that was involved. Of course, there was a good bit of work that went into it from many different people and dedication from the leadership of Vulcan Park and Museum to make it a priority. But building awareness was truly the most important factor here. Staff training and having resources available for visitors were the main steps. From training to kickoff, the process took eight weeks to complete.
LaShana Sorrell, Vulcan Park and Museum’s Director of PR & Marketing, described the process as “seamless” and stated that “[Vulcan Park and Museum] is excited to be a part of this growing list of [sensory inclusive] places across the country.”
And we’re all lucky that it’s right here in Birmingham.
What changes are taking place?
Vulcan Park and Museum is now offering specific areas that will be identified as ‘quiet zones.’ One such quiet zone is the picnic area on the right side of the park when walking up from the parking lot. The area is shaded by trees and the noise is muffled a bit by the foliage, so it is shielded from a lot of the noise or hectic activity that could be going on at the park during events or peak hours.
In addition, the park offers sensory bags that are available for anyone who needs them. The backpacks come equipped with noise-cancelling headphones, a KultureCity sensory pass, fidget toys and a card with various statements on it for those visitors who may be non-verbal. All of these accommodations are free of charge.
You can find the backpacks at the ticket booth or inside at the Greater Birmingham Visitors and Convention Bureau’s information desk. The quiet zones have already been defined, but will soon be easier to locate thanks to signs that will be provided by KultureCity.
If you need assistance in locating quiet zones or sensory bags, please ask a member of the staff to show you where they are located.