Press release from the Friends of the WNC Nature Center:
KultureCity has partnered with the Western North Carolina Nature Center to make the Nature Center a sensory-inclusive space. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests with sensory issues who visit the wildlife park.
The certification process entailed the staff at the WNC Nature Center being trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize those guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, and verbal cue cards will also be available to borrow for free to all guests at the Nature Center who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD, and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over-stimulation and noise, which is a part of the environment in a venue like the WNC Nature Center. With its new certification, the Nature Center is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending the wildlife park that focuses on species native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
Beginning July 22, families can download the free KultureCity App to view what sensory features are available and where they can access them prior to attending the park. The App also provides a Social Story which previews what to expect while visiting the WNC Nature Center.
To celebrate this new partnership with KultureCity, the WNC Nature Center will be hosting a Sensory Inclusion Event on Saturday, Aug. 3. Guests with sensory sensitivities and their families will be able enter the park an hour early at 9:00 a.m. for self-guided exploration of the park. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., the park will open to the public and will continue to offer animal programs, learning activities, games, and a sensory room in Education Center for guests with sensory needs until 1:00 p.m.
“To know that you soon will be able to see families attend the wildlife park, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment. Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Western North Carolina Nature Center is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.” Dr. Julian Maha, Co-Founder, KultureCity.
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs; not just those with Autism. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 200 sensory inclusive venues, including the NC Zoo and the WNC Nature Center.