terry charles | behind the stage | oct. 2017
One of the perhaps lesser-known areas of the Resch Center to most people is fast becoming a well-known area to those who really need it. PMI Entertainment Group, the Green Bay community-based management company of the Resch Center, has a customer service initiative called the Sensory Safe Zone.
The area is geared towards families with loved ones of any age that may be on the autism spectrum or have another emotional or mental disorder. It allows them a safe place to decompress without leaving the venue in the hopes they will be able to return to their seats. The soft space is equipped with weighted blankets and therapy tools recommended by industry professionals to assist our customers. PMI consulted with the CP Center of Green Bay to assess the space and offer recommendations on furnishings.
We continue to work with show promoters for permission to run a live feed when possible so the performance can be viewed from the Sensory Safe Zone without the stimulation of a live performance. When possible we also request a script of the show's special effects that can be shared with families prior to the event. This will allow families to prepare their loved one for what will happen and when it will happen so they have ample opportunity to leave their seats prior to their specific trigger.
Noise-cancelling headphones and sunglasses are also available for check-out in the zone as many times these items will allow the person to cope and overcome their anxiety without the need to leave their seats.
The Sensory Safe Zone was started in November of 2015. The Resch Center was one of the first arenas in the country to offer a permanent, dedicated quiet area. Other buildings have provided a temporary area on an event-by-event basis, but none offering a permanent spot like the Resch. Many buildings don't have a space that makes strategic sense.
Our space just off the lobby seems to be a very good fit. It's in an area we call the rotunda. It's underneath the big enclosed circular Cellcom staircase. There is no fee to use the zone and it can be accessed at any time. Customers who may not know where it is located may ask any guest service or box office representative for directions. The room is not supervised, as we want to give parents and guests the privacy they may need. We do have a guest service person check in from time to time.
As more people have used the zone and filled out surveys we have tweaked some of the things in the room and have added new items based on those comments. Overall, the feedback we have received has been very positive. Parents are very happy they have the option to bring a child who might not otherwise be able to come to an event. It's been a work in process the past two years and we'll continue that process moving forward while trying to spread the word.
For the coming season the plan is to have the room open for all Green Bay Gamblers hockey games, Monster Jam November 10 & 11, Sesame Street Live November 26, Harlem Globetrotters December 26 and Disney On Ice February 14-18. It's possible it could be open for additional shows in the future and we will have an updated schedule on the Resch Center website. The box office will also know when it's open. For now in the Sensory Safe Zone, mum is the word!
Terry Charles is public relations manager for Green Bay-based PMI Entertainment Group. He's all about media relations, publicity and social media for the Resch Center Complex, Meyer Theatre, Green Bay Gamblers Hockey and other events produced by PMI. When not at work, please don't hit him with your car as he runs and bikes around the Green Bay area. You can follow him on Twitter at @TCCharles.