Salt Lake City

Mayor's Office

Erin Mendenhall | (801) 535-7704 | mayor@slcgov.com

Salt Lake City Honored with “KultureCity Human Highlight Awards for Sensory Inclusive City of the Year”

KultureCity will name Salt Lake City as the Sensory Inclusive City of the Year at its 2021 KultureBall, taking place in Birmingham, AL this weekend. The honor follows a first-of-its-kind partnership between KultureCity and Salt Lake City to train and certify over 90% of the City’s first responders in late 2020. In addition to the training, first responder vehicles are equipped with a sensory bag and a decal identifying a trained first responder. Salt Lake City was the first in the nation to obtain this certification. 

“First responders are an integral part in making our communities safe and training first responders to be sensory inclusive is incredible. We hope that every town, city, and municipality throughout America will raise their hands to ensure there is a safe and trusting relationship for those with sensory needs,” Executive Director of KultureCity Uma Srivastava said. “We’ve really enjoyed working with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Police Chief Mike Brown, Fire Chief Karl Lieb, SLC911 Director Lisa Burnette, and the entire team at Salt Lake City. And lastly, we would like to thank KultureCity board members, Joe and Renae Ingles, for bringing attention to the gap, supporting the initiative, and for being champions for inclusion!”  

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition from KultureCity. We are committed as a City and a community to ensuring Salt Lake City is an inclusive and welcoming place for all,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “When you learn that 1 in 6 people have sensory needs, it becomes paramount that our first responders are as equipped as possible for approaching them in the most helpful, compassionate way they can. It’s beneficial for first responders, it’s beneficial for individuals with sensory issues, and it’s beneficial for their family members.”

Initial conversations about the City’s training started in September after a tragic police incident involving an autistic teenager. Joe and Renae Ingles immediately connected Salt Lake City with KultureCity, and the training was developed and administered. 

In just a few short months the training paid off when a highly tense situation was mitigated thanks to the tools the first responders received from KultureCity. 

Sensory needs are a common medical condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Common sounds, lights, crowds and even certain smells might not only be overwhelming but also physically painful. Because of this, these individuals withdraw from communities not by choice but by circumstance as they worry about how the world will accept or include them.

Responding to an individual with a sensory need is different and challenging. Whether a first responder has training in how to approach someone with invisible disabilities can make a huge difference at crucial times.

KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs, not just those with autism. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 700 sensory-inclusive venues in 4 countries: this includes special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, MLB World Series, and MLB All Star Weekend. KultureCity has won many awards for its efforts, including the NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2017 and the 2018 Clio Sports Silver for social good in partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers/Quicken Loans Arena. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Quiet Space Sensory Room at Quicken Loans Arena was a finalist for the 2018 Stadium Business Award, KultureCity was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 and 2020 by FastCompany and recently won the Industry Partner Award in TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Awards 2019.

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