The three top sports teams in Wigan Borough have backed an initiative to improve the match day experience for residents with autism.
Wigan Warriors, Wigan Athletic and Leigh Centurions are all working in partnership with Wigan Council to create autism-friendly stadiums. The clubs will be improving the experience for residents by offering supporters the opportunity to borrow ear defenders, all head stewards have undertaken autism friends training and supporters can enter the stadium using the side entrance as opposed to the turnstiles.
At Leigh Sports Village there is a virtual video tour of the stadium available for people to view before going to a match so they can familiarise themselves with where they will be going.
To date more than 4,000 people have taken part in a unique one hour awareness session that helps people to learn more about autism. The session includes a number of fun and interactive exercises and all attendees are invited to pledge to do something positive to help make Wigan a more autism friendly place. The sessions are co-produced and co-delivered by people with autism.
Virtual tours of key public buildings including shopping centres, leisure centres and schools, reducing anxiety for people with autism and creating opportunities, have also been created.
The borough is also encouraging businesses to take part in the Autism Hour by doing things such as turning down the music or dimming the lights for 60 minutes or to sign up as an autism friendly business.
This bold and pioneering approach underpins Wigan’s ambition to become one of the first autism friendly towns in the UK. A new website is launching with useful information for people with autism, friends, family, carers and professionals: www.autismfriendlywigan.org
An autism friendly alert card can be downloaded from the website for people with autism to help them communicate.
Wigan’s Adult Autism Partnership Board were recently awarded an Autism Professional Award by the National Autistic Society in recognition of their commitment to making Wigan a more autism friendly borough.