Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan made a young Arsenal fan with autism’s day when he paid a visit to the club’s award-winning sensory room.
Andreas Christou, 7, who attends St John’s Upper Holloway Primary School, is a regular visitor to the room which has been a huge success in assisting children with autism, other disabilities and sensory challenges, to have their own comfortable experience while feeling secure in their surroundings.
Andreas, and a number of other children with disabilities, were greeted by Mkhitaryan and members of the Arsenal Women Football Club, who had been invited to experience the sensory room and meet the children that use it.
Each child received a Christmas card signed by all the players and a gift to take home.
The unique facility at the Emirates was introduced in September last year to improve match day experiences for supporters with disabilities.
The space, which contains a range of sensory tools and games, gives fans with profound special needs and their families and carers, the opportunity to go to matches live at Emirates Stadium.
The room has sensory-assisting toys and games, various coloured soft lighting including a fully interactive floor which children can play with that has different modes, like balloon popping or stepping on leaves or paddling on the Thames. The best part of all of this facility – it’s free!
Andreas’ parents, Anthony and Danielle Christou, hailed the sensory room as “amazing.” They told Parikiaki, “Andreas looks forward to visiting Arsenal’s sensory room every Friday with his school. It’s a wonderful place for children with autism and we are so pleased that a club like Arsenal is showing that they care.”
The sensory room is credit to the hard work of the Shippey Campaign, which was founded by the parents of three children with autism.
Arsenal has a long history of providing services for disabled supporters dating back to the early 1960s when the club first introduced a commentary service for visually impaired supporters, a service which continues to this day.
The Gunners also provide an audio version of every home match day programme for visually impaired supporters and the club were the first Premier League club to install a Guide Dog Toilet facility.
Other facilities and services which have been introduced include a Disabled Supporters Match Day Lounge, where disabled supporters can meet and enjoy a hot drink before games.