KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 2023 NFL Draft is bringing a lot of excitement to Kansas City, but some may need to take a timeout from the noise and activity during the event.
The NFL, Variety KC and other organizations are teaming up to make sure those families are taken care of so everyone is included in the fun.
There will be two mobile sensory rooms at the NFL Draft, near the Play 60 field in the NFL Draft Experience.
Noise, bright lights and activity everywhere you look at the NFL draft is exciting, but it may cause over-stimulation for some.
“Up until now it wouldn’t have been something we would have considered,” Ali O’Grady said. “Just knowing all the obstacles that we would have faced.”
That’s why the NFL and Kansas City are working to tackle some of those challenges for families by providing sensory-friendly zones.
KultureCity will be on site with trained volunteers, sensory bags and two mobile sensory rooms, according to the NFL.
Variety KC will also have sensory bags at the entrances. Backpacks will be equipped with fidget tools, weighted blankets, and noise-canceling headphones.
O’Grady’s 4-year-old son has autism and hypotonia, which effects the way he walks and moves.
“He does get rattled by the loud sounds,” O’Grady said, “and knowing that there’s a place where we could easily take him — where it’s going to be quieter, where he can regroup and collect himself and have space to do so that’s close by, without having to walk all the way back to the car or completely go home — is just awesome.”
Union Station will also have 200 spots per day for accessible parking. Anyone with a wheelchair can look for Variety KC Walk & Roll signs and know where to go on the grounds.
There will also be an adult-size changing table available in Union Station.
“It’s cool to see what they’re doing for ADA, what they’re doing for sensory needs, you know, adult changing tables,” KC Sports Commission President and CEO Kathy Nelson said. “All those things are thought through and brought to the draft. That really has a big signature statement on how much they care.”
Special wristbands are also available for families with sensory needs who need to skip the crowd and get to the front of lines.
You can find more information on the NFL One Pass app.
The Draft Experience is free to all fans, but to enter the Draft Experience, fans are required to register via the NFL OnePass app.