For young Celtic supporters, a first trip to Paradise represents an important milestone in their life, regardless of their background, challenges or circumstances.
And in light of this, earlier this year, Celtic FC Foundation unveiled The Lions’ View Sensory Room – a safe space for children and young people living with auditory, visual or sensory disorders, including autism and similar conditions.
Planned in extensive consultation with leading industry experts and service users, The Lions’ View Sensory Room allows children and young people to learn and develop in real-world scenarios, such as those typically encountered in a footballing environment, while accounting for their needs and any sensitivities.
This initiative is a product of the Foundation’s #LionsLegacy project series, following a range of fundraising events across six incredible days in May, 2017, honouring the 50th anniversary of Celtic’s 1967 European Cup victory.
Since launching in April, The Lion’s View Sensory Room has already given around 50 young supporters with autism, or related sensory conditions, an opportunity to experience a live match in an appropriate, safe and calm environment.
The facility is already changing lives for young children and their families, offering those living with sensory needs an opportunity to attend Celtic FC home matches with comfort and assurance, and for many people, this is the first time they have ever been able to attend Paradise and cheer on their team.
People like Kevin McLaughlin, who took his son Aaron to his first-ever Celtic game against Kilmarnock in April. Reflecting on his experience, Kevin said: “For me, it represented a day that I never thought would be possible.
“I had just accepted that I would never be able to take Aaron to Celtic Park. On that day, Aaron’s life got that bit bigger, he loved the whole experience of going to his first Celtic game with his dad – just like any other young boy.”
More recently, Nicola Martin took her daughter Kacey to the SPFL curtain-raiser against St Johnstone. Nicola said: “Kacey would have never been able to have had such an enjoyable, peaceful day at Celtic Park without all the hard work and consideration the club and Foundation has given to supporting autism and other disabilities.
“It was great to see and lovely to enjoy the day with her. Thank you again for having us it was Kacey’s ‘best day ever’.”
Speaking on the initial success of The Lions’ View Sensory Room, Celtic FC Foundation Chief Executive, Tony Hamilton, added: “Everyone at Celtic FC Foundation is delighted with the success of the Sensory Room so far. It’s important to recognise the part the club’s supporters played in making this and other initiatives possible.
“We are keen to develop our work in this area and our aim is to ensure the Sensory Room is used by as many people as possible.”
With over 80 supporters looking to utilise the room, Celtic FC Foundation has created a waiting list to mitigate growing demand. Please register your interest early to ensure we are able to accommodate any requests to use the facility.
Supporters interested in accessing The Lions’ View Sensory Room on a matchday, or learning more about the facility, should contact [email protected]