Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 27: Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz shares a moment with a fan before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 27, 2019 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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World Autism Day: Vivint Smart Home Arena will be even more welcoming for fans with sensory needs thanks to new certification

Joe and Renae Ingles felt so many things on Jan. 8, 2019. There was fear and uncertainty and anxiousness. That was the day their son, Jacob, was diagnosed with autism.

Fifteen months later, the Ingleses felt hope and happiness on World Autism Awareness Day.

 “Awareness and acceptance is so important,” Joe Ingles said. “We will continue to put this message out, and not just today.”

Joe and Renae Ingles have become global advocates for autism awareness since Jacob’s diagnosis. And on Thursday, the couple celebrated a new partnership between the Utah Jazz and KultureCity, a national nonprofit that helps promote acceptance and inclusion for people with sensory needs. When games and concerts resume at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the newly KultureCity certified arena will be more accommodating for fans with sensory needs than ever before.

“This is an important movement that not only impacts individuals with autism but also dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions,” said Joe Ingles, who along with Renae Ingles sits on KultureCity’s board. “No doubt, Vivint Smart Home Arena can be loud with our fans, but the presence of a sensory room from Vivint Gives Back and additional tools from KultureCity will help guests better enjoy the experience.”

All arena staff have received training from medical professionals regarding how to recognize guests with sensory needs and handle a sensory overload situation. Guests attending events at Vivint Smart Home Arena now have the option to visit the Vivint Gives Back Sensory Room—which has been on the fifth floor of the arena since 2018—or borrow sensory bags equipped with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads for those who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.

“This certification from KultureCity reaffirms our commitment to better understanding our guests with sensory sensitivities through specific staff training and proper resources,” said John Kimball, president of Vivint Smart Home Arena. “As an organization, we seek to cultivate an accepting and inclusive environment for individuals with sensory needs so that they can be participants in all events at Vivint Smart Home Arena.”

April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Utah Jazz and the Ingleses will use their platforms to promote an important cause. On Thursday, Joe Ingles shared the stories of people living with autism. 

The Jazz forward also shared his family’s story.

“Jacob’s progress has been unreal,” he said. “To hear my son say ‘Dadda’ for the first time is something I’ll never forget. I could not be prouder of him.

“We have had plenty of great days and plenty of rough ones. One thing that is for sure is we have his back and we will continue to help, push, challenge and love him through it all."

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