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Student nurses back football club’s initiative for fans with learning disabilities

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Learning disability nursing students from Teeside University have given their seal of approval to a new sensory room at Middlesbrough Football Club designed to ensure all families can enjoy watching the game.

The sensory room, located in the East Stand at the club’s Riverside Stadium, features special lighting, seating and activities with the aim of creating a comfortable space for children with autism and learning disabilities, who may struggle with crowds and noise on match days.

“It is very inclusive towards people with autism and learning disabilities”

Sophie Hurne-Harding

Teesside University nursing students Chloe Skipp and Sophie Hurne-Harding, who are both studying for a BSc in nursing studies specialising in learning disabilities, were among those who attended the recent launch of the facility.

“The new sensory room is very person-centred and quiet, allowing the children to relax in a low stimulus environment,” said Ms Skipp.

“I think it will be very popular as it is allowing families to do things they enjoy together,” she said.

Ms Hurne-Harding added that she hoped it would help ensure children could get fully involved in the match day experience.

“It is very inclusive towards people with autism and learning disabilities and their families and takes an active role in providing fun activities and involving them in the fun intensity of a football match,” she said.

According to Middlesbrough, it is one of just five clubs across England and Scotland to provide such a facility.

The club received funding for the initiative from the Premier League, BT Sport’s disability programme and disability sports charity The Lord’s Taverners.

The project has also been supported by Teesside University, WHSmith Teesside Park and the Shippey Campaign, set up by Peter and Kate Shippey, whose three sons have all been diagnosed with autism.

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