This spring, Dr. Mary Beth Kadlec, ScD, OTR/L, Program Director of the UMass Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (CANDO) Clinic and Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, MGH Institute of Health Professions, and Allison Klowan, Doctor of Occupational Therapy ’21 student, provided community service through consultation to the Worcester Red Sox Client Services Team to a sensory-friendly space within the ballpark. Polar Park is the new home of the Worcester Red Sox (“Woo Sox”), previously known as the Pawtucket Red Sox (“Paw Sox”).
The sensory-friendly space is meant to provide an area for children, families, and adults with or without sensory processing difficulties to take a “break” from the high sensory stimulation during a baseball game. During the construction phase of creating this sensory-friendly space, Kadlec and Klowan also used their occupational therapy lenses and provided suggestions regarding universal design for the ballpark, including wheelchair accessibility, environmental set-up, furniture and equipment, staff training procedures, and how to direct families to use the sensory-friendly room and more accessibility options. These improvements to the ballpark are vital steps towards inclusivity for baseball fans from across the region. Head to Polar Park for a day of fun this season – “Play Ball!”