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Chatham, VA: Otterbots baseball team adds "sensory room to increase inclusivity"

May 6, 2022, Chatham (VA) Star Tribune: Otterbots add sensory room to increase inclusivity

For some, the sights and sounds of a Danville Otterbots game can be overwhelming. To address that concern, the team last week unveiled its new sensory room.

Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce President Anne Moore-Sparks welcomed everyone and explained what Austin Scher and the Otterbots have done with the addition of the sensory room.

“You’ve created inclusivity so that all Otterbots fans can have the same experience, and I want to congratulate you on such forward thinking,” she said.

Scher took his turn and thanked everyone for coming. He would flashback to what the Otterbots’ goal has been from the beginning.

“We came into the market May 2021, and our goal from day one has been to provide a different and unique entertainment product for our fan base to continue having high level baseball and try to be a little bit different in how we think and operate.”…

Scher explains for every game there is on field promotions and music playing to someone even without sensitivities can be overwhelming, so they came up with ideas to address that.

One idea was a sensory night where lower music tones would be going. Another idea was autism awareness inclusivity projects. However, Scher said those ideas would be good for one night only and needed something permanent.

This room has cuddle swings, fidget boards, soft LED lights, wall-to-wall padding, different textured rugs, sound-deadening headphones, comfortable chairs, sensory-friendly fidget toys and a blackout curtain….

Director of Business Development for The Hughes Center Alison Waymouth expressed her optimism for the Otterbots’ pursuit of inclusiveness.

“This is an immense step for the Danville area as well as our surrounding communities,” she said. “This presents an opportunity for the Otterbots and the Appalachian League to take a major step forward in their progress….

“This sensory room provides opportunities for people with specialized, specific, sensory needs to have a place to go when they feel overwhelmed. During a game, it can be very stimulating and overwhelming and this presents a safe place for those people to go when they just need a minute to reset. This piece of inclusion is a step for the Otterbots, and we are extremely happy for them because they deserve it, and it is one more step towards their goals of inclusion they are working towards.”

Danville City Councilman Lee Volger gave a few comments, calling the moment “groundbreaking.”

“Today is a truly wonderful day for the Danville region. This sensory room is groundbreaking in many sense and puts the Otterbots in a class of their own, and by way of that, puts Danville in a class of its own,” he said….

The Otterbots sensory room includes many amenities, including sound-deadening headphones.


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