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Kauffman Center makes move toward inclusiveness with new resources for guests with special needs

serenity room at Kauffman Center.jpg
Posted at 1:02 PM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 18:43:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two Kansas City, Missouri, groups have partnered to create a first-of-its-kind inclusive experience.

Tuesday, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and Variety KC unveiled several additions to make the center more accessible to children with special needs.

The upgrades include two serenity rooms, sensory kits and universal changing stations.

A serenity room is a place outside the performance hall where families can relax and still watch the performance on a TV. It has a couch and beanbag chair and activities like coloring books for children.

Sensory kits include ear protection, a weighted lap pad and other items designed to help children on the Autism spectrum enjoy their experience. Kits are now available for check out at the coat check on the Plaza lobby level.

The new changing stations include a table large enough for an adult. So families can change their child in dignity no matter their size.

"It's a dream come true for Variety KC because we want to show the nation everyone should enjoy the arts. Just because you have a special need or a disability, doesn't mean you need to be excluded," Variety KC executive Director Deborah Wiebrecht explained.

Variety KC is an organization which works to give special needs children the opportunities and equipment to be active, social and strong. Its board chair said the group has often focused on sporting-related activities and partnered with the Kauffman Center to include culturally-enriching programs like the performing arts.

Families in the Variety KC program helped cut the ribbon unveiling the new resources. Then they watched Jack Hanna's Into the Wild Live matinee performance at the Kauffman Center.