The Museum of Surrey is becoming more accessible to local residents with the launch of a new sensory-friendly initiative, announced Tuesday (Aug. 13).
In partnership with the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), the museum will run sensory-friendly hours from 10 a.m. to noon on the first Sunday of each month, beginning in September.
The Sunday mornings will offer guests an opportunity to tour the museum with reduced lighting and sound. Guests can borrow complimentary noise-cancelling headphones — which are available from the front desk at any time, not just during the sensory-friendly hours — and can access the permanent, sensory-friendly space on the museum’s second floor.
“The City of Surrey is committed to providing accessible and inclusive programs and services for all members of our community,” said Coun. Allison Patton. “Today’s announcement ensures everyone can experience the magic of our museum.”
“We’re very dedicated to keep building these spaces,” said Patton.
Museum manager Lynn Saffery said he was thrilled to officially launch the sensory-friendly hours.
“The Museum of Surrey is your museum. It’s a people museum that is inclusive, accessible and cares deeply about the communities and connections within the City of Surrey,” he said.
“We tell the stories of Surrey, and that means that all people need to be represented, not just our visitors but within our programs, events, galleries and exhibits.”
A second city-wide initiative was also announced during the Tuesday morning event.
Ben Wilson, Prevention Captain with Surrey Fire Service, was on hand to talk about new training and resources that will be made available to Surrey first responders.
As a parent of a child with autism, the initiative is “near and dear” to Wilson’s heart, he said.
Through an ongoing partnership between CAN, the City of Surrey, Surrey Fire Service and the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society, firefighters will now receive autism awareness training, and sensory-friendly kits will be provided to all front-line rigs “to aid anyone with sensory processing needs during first responder or fire calls.”
Those kits will include noise-cancelling headphones, symbol cards and calming accessories to assist anyone who may become overwhelmed during an incident.
As CAN noted in a media release, individuals with autism are “seven times more likely to interact with first responders than other members of the public.”
“As first responders, communication and trust with our patients is key to keeping them safe,” said Wilson. “When an accident or fire occurs, it can be overwhelming for everyone involved, particularly for those with autism or sensory processing disorders. We are very proud to launch this innovative program, which will ensure better service to all members of our community.”
Additionally, a newly established Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society autism committee will work to promote educational training among first responders, as well as support fire service members whose families are living with autism.