On Thursday, March 14, students with autism visited a Minnesota Wild hockey practice to get a feel for gameday experience as part of an event sponsored by Associated Bank, the Minnesota Wild, and the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM).
Game days have the power to unite people from across the state to see the hometown team, but to many individuals on the autism spectrum, the large crowds and intense noises hold a unique and very real set of challenges. To help students feel more comfortable taking on the unknown factors associated with these types of events, a low-stakes practice run is the perfect way to help families gauge readiness in a fun and supportive environment.
Upon entering the arena on Friday morning, students navigated their way through ticket Will Call, security lines and a tour of the concourse before making their way up to a premier level suite. From there, students and families watched the team practice, while making friends with the local media reporters and camera crews who were there to capture the experience.
The three event sponsors teamed up to design a day that both celebrated the fan experience and the students participating. Each sponsor brought something different to the day: with the Minnesota Wild practice and tour, facilitated personal finance activities with Associated Bank volunteers and “I am Awesome” written statements and video interviews with AuSM staff members. It was a morning of conquering new endeavors and feeling more at ease to potentially attend an upcoming game with family and friends.
The practice visit was the first step in a closer relationship between AuSM, Associated Bank and the Minnesota Wild. At the game against the Los Angeles Kings on March 19, the Wild and Associated Bank also sponsored a Stock the Box event to support AuSM by raising funds for the local autism community.
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