Wrestlers make their mark to promote accessibility

New Horizons Pro Wrestling wrestlers showing off the new sensory bags. Photo: Ben Smith.
New Horizons Pro Wrestling wrestlers showing off the new sensory bags. Photo: Ben Smith.

A WRESTLING organisation has launched an Australian-first initiative to make their events more welcoming to people with sensory issues.

New Horizons Professional Wrestling, who run wrestling shows in Cockburn and throughout Perth, now offer sensory bags to attendees with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions.

Announcer Michael Lee said they were the first wrestling group in the country to offer the sensory bags, imported from American organisation KultureCity.

The accessibility group have helped to make major sporting events, such as the National Football League’s Super Bowl and Pro Bowl and the Major Baseball League’s All-Star Weekend, more sensory friendly.

The bags contain noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys and verbal cue cards and Mr Lee said early test runs had been.

“There was a moment where the videos were a bit loud and one of the kids looked like he was about to have an incident,” he said.

“But he went outside, got some headphones, sat down for a bit and was so grateful he tried to help pack up afterwards.”

As part of the partnership with Kulture City, wrestlers and staff underwent training on how to recognise fans with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.

Show attendees can also download the free KultureCity app to view the available sensory features and what to expect at the event

Mr Lee said even though their shows incorporated flashing lights and loud music, it was important the shows tried to be accessible to all.

“The goal is to cater to hundreds of people and as we grow, I want to able to cater to anyone,” he said.

“I don’t want the fact they’re socially awkward or maybe have a condition to stop them from having the chance to make relationships.”

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