Flint RiverQuarium Opens New Sensory Room

Staff Report

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

As the latest in a series of planned improvements and upgrades, the Flint RiverQuarium, in partnership with KultureCity, is pleased to announce the opening of the Eric and Carol Pittman Sensory Room on Monday, August 2. 

KultureCity is a non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory-based needs, not just those with autism. The Flint RiverQuarium, along with sister organization Thronateeska Heritage Center, was certified as sensory inclusive by KultureCity in 2019. The new sensory room was made possible through the generosity of Eric and Carol Pittman of Birmingham, Alabama, and was organized and developed by the KultureCity team working closely with staff at the Flint RiverQuarium. 

Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD, and other similar conditions. 

“One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise, which can be a challenge in a public venue like the Flint RiverQuarium,” said Artesian Alliance Director Tommy Gregors, who oversees the operation of the Flint RiverQuarium, Thronateeska, and Chehaw Park and Zoo. “The new sensory room, paired with our staff training and other resources available for our visitors, makes us better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities, ensuring that they have the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible.”

As part of the earlier certification process, Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska staff were trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize visitors with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads are available to all guests at the Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Now, guests can also retreat to the sensory room, which features soothing lights and sounds, soft beanbags, and hands-on activities designed to calm and focus individuals who may be overstimulated.

“Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska Heritage Center are both willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing,” said Dr. Julian Maha, co-founder of KultureCity. 

Since its inception, KultureCity has created over 450 sensory-inclusive venues in 4 countries: this includes special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl 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 by Fast Company and recently won the Industry Partner Award in The Stadium Business Design & Development Awards 2019. Learn more at kulturecity.org.

The Flint RiverQuarium is southwest Georgia’s premier aquarium, featuring more than 1,000 animals that call the Flint River watershed home. The Flint RiverQuarium is located at 101 Pine Avenue in downtown Albany, Georgia. The Flint RiverQuarium is open seven days a week 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Find more details at flintriverquarium.com.