Arsenal Invincible legend Robert Pires makes a young fan with autism’s day in Emirates award-winning sensory room

Arsenal legend Robert Pires with Harley in the ground-breaking sensory room at the Emirates

Arsenal legend Robert Pires with Harley in the ground-breaking sensory room at the Emirates - Credit: Archant

Arsenal legend Robert Pires made a young Arsenal fan with autism’s day when he paid a visit to the club’s award-winning sensory room.

Harley enjoys the award-winning Arsenal sensory room

Harley enjoys the award-winning Arsenal sensory room - Credit: Archant

Arsenal’s sensory room has been hailed by Junior Gunners with autism and their parents as ‘amazing’.

The sensory room played host to children with autism and Down’s syndrome during Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Watford.

The unique facility at the Emirates was introduced in September to improve match day experiences for supporters with disabilities.

The room has been a huge success in assisting children with disability to have their own comfortable experience while feeling secure in their surroundings.

Harley enjoys the ground-breaking sensory room at the Emirates

Harley enjoys the ground-breaking sensory room at the Emirates - Credit: Archant

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Young Gunner Harley has been busy exploring the valuable community resource at the Emirates – as well as meeting Highbury idol Pires.

His dad, Dave Hurrell proudly looked on as his little Gunner explored the facilities of the sensory room on his first-ever Arsenal game when Arsene Wenger’s side beat Everton 5-1 in February.

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Hurrell said the unforgettable day left him and his son with ‘amazing memories’ – all thank to the sensory room.

He said: “Amazing football game for my Harley at Arsenal courtesy of the sensory room – and meeting a true legend.”

Arsenal's award-winning sensory room

Arsenal's award-winning sensory room - Credit: Archant

Another Arsenal supporter, Tony Barnett, praised the sensory room for being ‘a wonderful place’ for his seven-year-old son, Noah.

The room allows young fans the chance to cheer on their team without feeling uncomfortable – disconcerted by the very things we take for granted at a football match.

Tony explained to the Islington Gazette: “The sensory room removes many of the barriers that could stop an ASD child from being able to attend matches.

“Turnstiles, crowds, shouting are things you worry about.

“Once inside it’s relaxed with shoes and coats taken off, it’s a bit like being at home.”

Barnett added his son loved being able to watch the game through the window in the viewing room.

The pair will be in attendance at the Emirates on Sunday, April 1, when Arsenal host Stoke, a game young Noah told us ‘can’t wait’ to see.

The Shippey Campaign came up with the initiative, a campaign founded by parents of children with autism.

Founders Kate and Peter Shippey are thrilled with Arsenal’s work to help children with autism,

Speaking on their website Peter hailing Arsenal saying: ‘[The club] is an absolute pleasure to support, guide and advise.

“It’s brilliant to see Arsenal taking care of their supporters and opening a door that may have been previously shut.”

An Arsenal spokesman said: “We have been working tirelessly on improving the experience for people with disability, dating back to the 1960’s when a commentary service for the blind was first introduced.

“The club have also increased the number of Wheelchair spaces this year to 258, as well as introducing a Disabled Supporters Match Day Lounge, an area where disabled supporters can meet before a game.”

Arsenal have proudly obtained the Level Playing Field Centre of Excellence award due to their support for disabled fans and visitors.

*Arsenal’s Sensory Room has been honoured by the football accessibility organisation The Level Playing Field – the first professional football club to achieve the prestigious award.

The Level Playing Field aim to promote access for fans at football matches and have been honouring the efforts of football clubs around the country as part of their ‘week of action’, including Arsenal.

Follow the charity Level Playing Field @lpftweets.

For more on the Shippey Campaign follow @ShippeyCampaign.

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