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Jets’ Quiet Room provides big game experience for kids on autism spectrum


Children on the autism spectrum can now enjoy a “live” sporting event in a safe and comfortable environment at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Thanks to major community partner Greater Bank, the Newcastle Jets unveiled a “Quiet Room” at the weekend, just in time for the side’s A-League Men’s clash with the Perth Glory.

And, the club hosted 55 students, parents, carers and staff from Aspect Hunter School on Saturday night.

Aoife McGarvey and Eamon Webb, with Glenda and Sam Henry (background)

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) worked with the Jets to design and set up the Quiet Room, which features reduced sensory input, including noise, light and sometimes smells.

School principal Lara Cheney praised the organisation for its foresight.

“Attending a live event is something many sporting fans take for granted,” she said.

“We have many students who love the Newcastle Jets.

“However, the prospect of them and their families going to a game are usually remote given the sensory overload that can be presented.

“The Quiet Room will provide a space where a person on the autism spectrum or other sensory issues can enjoy the experience of an event but in a far more controlled and safer environment.

Catherine and Logan Parker

“It not only reduces their stress and anxiety, but also that of their parents or carers.

“This is a wonderful initiative by the Jets and Greater Bank, who have made the match day experience accessible and inclusive for people who otherwise would not have the opportunity.”

Discussions are currently underway to possibly offer the autism-friendly Quiet Room on a more ongoing basis throughout 2022/23 and potentially future seasons to enable more autism community members to benefit from this fantastic initiative.

Teighan Reid and Levi Spicer

Greater Bank community engagement manager Ingrid Kaczor also hailed the concept.

“Since 2016, we’ve been the major community partner with the Newcastle Jets and, in that time, we’ve worked closely to connect the club and players with their fans here and the Hunter and beyond,” she said.

“This initiative was about giving students from Aspect Hunter School, and their families, with the best match day experience possible, without the sensory issues that often prevent them from attending.

“From providing express entry to the ground, to having earmuffs and ‘chill out areas’ to help escape the sensory overload, the atmosphere also offers a welcoming environment and creates unforgettable memories for all.

“Thanks must go to the Jets for partnering with Greater Bank to bring this initiative to life.”

Leigh and Chelsea Lynch

FOOTNOTE: The Jets celebrated the opening of the Quiet Room with a thrilling 2-1 win over the Glory.

Newcastle took the lead in the 58th minute through Jordan Elsey, who headed in a Carl Jenkinson cross.

Elsey was then sent from the field after receiving his second yellow card with a high-footed challenge inside the box.

Aaron McEneff scored from the spot to level it up 1-all.

But, the Jets withstood pressure from the Glory.

MIchael Weier’s quick-thinking found Jaushua Sotirio unmarked on the wing who played in Beka Mikeltadze to make it 2-1 in the 93rd minute to send the home crowd into raptures.

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