By Ingrid Schnader
Following the example set by other Birmingham destinations, Vulcan Museum and Park celebrated joining the city’s sensory-inclusive historic sites with a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 28.
Visitors with sensory issues will be able to check out fidget tools, noise-canceling headphones, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads. These tools will be available at the ticket booth and the information desk inside the Visitors Center.
New quiet spaces throughout the park and museum will help individuals with sensitivity to overstimulation. Signage will be posted throughout the area, guiding visitors to these quiet spaces.
The Vulcan staff also were required to receive training from medical professionals. This training will allow the staff to recognize visitors with sensory needs and prepare them to handle a sensory overload situation.
KultureCity, a non-profit founded in Birmingham in 2013, partnered with Vulcan to help the park and museum become sensory-inclusive. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the KultureCity team passed out sensory bags similar to the ones visitors will be able to check out. They also brought giveaways to the event, giving five families weighted lap pads and one family an iPad.
Christy Kendrick attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with her daughter, Kaileigh, who has autism.
“She doesn’t have as many sensory issues, but she does sometimes have issues with loud noises,” Kendrick said.
The Kendrick family traveled to the event from Gadsden, and they said they don’t see any accommodations like this in their hometown.
“We’re just interested in seeing what they’re doing for the autistic community,” Kendrick said. “And we’re trying to get her more involved with other special needs kids and to find a community for her, for the future.”
Hip-hop artist Sho Baraka cut the ribbon at the event. Baraka said KultureCity and the things it does for communities has affected his life because he has a son on the spectrum.
“Not only has KultureCity made an indelible impact on me personally, but I’ve seen how it’s changed lives nationally,” Baraka said. “I think years from now, hopefully, KultureCity will be known as a staple in the city of Birmingham for changing lives.”