Photo: The virtual experience takes the viewer on a journey from home to Old Trafford stadium
With football stadiums closed until May at the earliest, many are missing the matchday experience, while some young people may never be able to encounter it due to sensory needs.
But now, Manchester United Foundation has developed a sensory experience of Old Trafford, for all fans to enjoy a matchday experience from home.
Produced by the Foundation’s disability and inclusion team, the story was released in celebration of World Book Day and Level Playing Field’s weeks of action, to create awareness of positive, inclusive experiences for disabled sports fans.
The story is aimed at young people with sensory needs, but allows anyone who is currently missing that matchday feeling the chance to experience Old Trafford from home.
It has been developed from an original concept produced in partnership with Bag Books, a charity that provides multi-sensory books for people with learning disabilities.
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Delivered by Manchester United Foundation’s special educational needs and disability (SEND) officer Michael Brewster, the story takes the audience on a journey from home to Old Trafford, experiencing all aspects of a matchday, including buying a programme, meeting club mascot Fred the Red, and chanting in the stands. A prop list is suggested for those who want to join along from home.
The sensory story is also delivered in the Foundation’s partner special schools, using props for children to be able to see, hear, feel and even smell what it is like to be at Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, watching Manchester United play.
Elaine Curran, lead practitioner at Kingfisher Special School in Oldham, Greater Manchester, said:
“The sensory story has enabled children to experience something they might never encounter. For many of the children an actual matchday would be too overwhelming and so by engaging with the sensory story they can have the experience in a safe environment at school or home. For the children lucky enough to visit Old Trafford this story allows us to prepare them for the sights and sounds they might encounter.”
The sensory experience follows on from other activities delivered by the Foundation’s disability and inclusion department during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the summer the team delivered a four-week exercise class for fans to follow from home, and they have been providing regular welfare calls and weekly online activities for participants and pupils of their usual projects since the start of lockdown in March 2020.
You can find out more about the Foundation’s disability and inclusion provision on the website here.