Best Of 2019

Best Inclusive Ice Event: Cincinnati Cyclones

Hockey games can be overwhelming for just about anyone — strobe lights, smoke machines, fog horns, toppling towers of dollar beer cans. In October, the Cincinnati Cyclones turned things down a notch for an inclusive sensory-friendly game for those with autism, PTSD and other sensitivities and their friends to enjoy a night out on the ice. Presented in collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the decreased stimulation tactics included no goal horns, strobe lights or pyrotechnics; decreased microphone and music volume; and the lights remained on. They also asked fans to leave their cowbells and noisemakers at home. In addition to providing sensory kits stuffed with things like antiglare sunglasses, an ID wristband, noise-reducing ear covers, a fidget toy, sanitizing wipes and a venue map, they offered a downloadable social narrative to walk people through what they would see, hear and experience before watching the game. The kits are now a constant and available on a first come, first served basis for fans with visual and auditory sensitivities. “U.S. Bank Arena and the Cincinnati Cyclones are the first venue and sports team in Cincinnati to take the initiative to ensure that athletic events such as hockey games are accessible to everyone including individuals with developmental disabilities and their families,” said Jen Smith, director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in a press release. “Our kids and families want and deserve the same opportunities to enjoy sports and other community events.” Now they can. Cincinnati Cyclones, U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, cycloneshockey.com.