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A fully-equipped sensory room is now available at the Overland Park Convention Center for neurodiverse, autistic and disabled individuals. In partnership with non-profit KultureCity, the sensory room is a dedicated space created by medical professionals with reduced lighting and noise for guests who may feel overstimulated and need a more secure environment.
The room is located at the venue’s Exhibition Hall A entrance on the upper level, and is complete with bean bags, visual light panels, bubble walls, activity panels, and a custom tactile art piece created by an autistic artist.
“We believe in inclusion at every event so certifying the Overland Park Convention Center was amazing; not only that, to build out the first KultureCity certified sensory room at a convention center was remarkable,” said Uma Srivastava, executive director of KultureCity. “Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Overland Park Convention Center is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”
The Overland Park Convention Center first achieved a Sensory Inclusive certification with KultureCity in Aug. 2021, making all programs and events hosted at the venue sensory inclusive.
The certification process equipped convention center staff by training with leading medical professionals to recognize attendees with sensory needs, and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions.
“After completing our certification and learning so much about the challenges faced by this community, creating a sensory room was a logical next step for us,” said Brett C. Mitchell, general manager of the Overland Park Convention Center. “One of the major barriers for these individuals is over stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in event venues. With this initiative, the convention center is better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities so they can attend and feel comfortable.”
Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads are also available to all guests at the convention center who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.
Prior to attending an event, families can download the free KultureCity App to see what sensory features are available at the convention center and where they can be accessed. The apps ‘Social Story’ feature also provides a preview of what to expect while at the venue.
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.
To learn more about the Overland Park Convention Center’s sensory room, please visit opconventioncenter.com/sensory-inclusive-events or call 913.339.3000. To learn more about KultureCity, please visit kulturecity.org.
Overland Park Convention Center: 6000 College Boulevard, Overland Park, KS 66211
About Overland Park Convention Center
The award-winning Overland Park Convention Center opened in November of 2002 on a 26-acre site in the heart of Overland Park, the largest suburban city in the Kansas City metropolitan and the second largest city in Kansas. Adorned with over sixty original works of are and equipped with state-of-the-art communications systems, the 245,000 square floor complex features a 60,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall that connects to the 25,000 sq. ft. Edwin C. Eilert Ballroom and 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting room space. Natural light radiates throughout the unusually spacious (44,000 sq. ft.) pre-function and registration areas. Among the convention centers many awards, the most recent include: 2021 Best Customer Service & On-Site Support in North America, EXHBITOR Magazine, 2020 Best Small Convention Center in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2020-2021 Top Convention Centers in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2019 Best Convention Centers in North America, Business View Magazine; 2002 – 2021 Best Meeting & Conference Facility, Ingram’s Magazine; 2018 – 2021 Prime Site Award, Facilities & Destinations Magazine.
Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 800 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, and recently, KultureCity was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 by FastCompany.
The Gender Reveal Party Podcast has released an interview with Kansas State Representative Stephanie Byers (District 86), the first Native American transgender person elected to state office in the United States.
The interview focuses on the issues facing the state of Kansas, Rep. Byers’ experiences as a transwoman on the campaign trail and with her colleagues in the Kansas State House, and the anti-trans legislation being introduced in Kansas and across the country.
Kansas' first openly transgender legislator is ready to serve youtu.be
The episode also has personal insights about Byers’ coming out as her authentic self while working as a band teacher in Wichita, how she experiences her cultural heritage as a member of the Chickasaw Nation and her identity as a transperson, her marriage, and differences of privilege she experienced while the world perceived her as man and now that she is perceived as a transwoman.
Byers and The Gender Reveal Party Podcast host, Lawrence’s Jay Pryor, address the anti-trans legislation introduced in Kansas during the last legislative session and how many prominent political candidates for office have made anti-trans messaging a central part of their campaigns.
“Isn’t it a shame that their campaigns are so shallow that they have nothing better to talk about than to pick on trans kids–that there is no more substance to it than that?,” said Rep. Byers.
“We have tremendous problems…Kansas is running out of water. We need to be actively looking at what we can do to best use the resources we have and to give nature the opportunity to recharge the water that we have…We need to focus in on the housing crisis that we have…We can get Medicaid expanded and save medicine in rural Kansas.”
Addressing the sponsors of this type of legislation, Pryor said, “Don’t you have something better to do? We have children literally in our state that…the only meal they get is at school. We have kids hungry…and you want to focus on trans kids playing sports? It’s maddening to me. Why are you so obsessed with trans people when we have so many other problems that are huge?”
Listen to the entire interview at https://anchor.fm/jay-pryor5
Kansas City can look forward to a new brick-and-mortar LGBTQ space! KCMO currently has between 4 and 6 local bars and one club that can be considered "gay bars".
This spring, the Fountain Haus will plant its flag on the corner of Broadway and Westport Road in early 2022 with a multi-level entertainment venue, each room embracing a unique concept and experience — effectively offering 4 bars in the building, including a club, speakeasy, restaurant, and rooftop.
Touted in the press release as "a place for everyone," Fountain Haus will be "a destination for the LGBTQ community and its allies, adding to the roster of landmark queer bars across the country."
Locally owned and operated by managing partners David Brinkerhoff, Dan Meiners and Ryan Overberg, each bring rich experience to the new concept.
With four unique spaces in one building - The Pump Room, The Cube, the rooftop Pool Deck, and The Siren Speakeasy - each area offers a distinct vibe through design and programming. Not just for nightlife, the Fountain Haus has plans to offer brunch and other weekday dining options throughout the three levels.
The Pump Room, the main lounge and dining area, and The Cube dance club will open in late January 2022. The rooftop Pool Deck will open in Spring, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Guests can start with Happy Hour and let their evening evolve throughout the venue, giving them the ability to bar hop throughout the complex.
The Fountain Haus will also be a cultural hub and foster the arts in Kansas City, utilizing both local and world-renowned talent, offering visitors multiple experiences on any given night. There will be small or large-scale events for charities, receptions, or parties.
Formerly occupied by HopCat and internationally recognized Tiki Cat, the Fountain Haus will have a single entrance on Broadway and light features that will surround the building along with a dedicated security team. Fountain Haus is committed to providing a safe, progressive, and dazzling environment for Westport, Kansas City, the queer community, and its allies.Private event booking is now available. Fountain Haus is currently accepting applications for bartenders, servers, talent, and other staff.
OUTvoices caught up with the managing partners to find out a little more about the venue:
What exactly was the lightbulb moment that KC would benefit from a 'gay bar' if we can loosely call it that?
KC has a long history in the queer community, so we aren’t starting the trend. There was a time when the city had at least two dozen LGBTQ bars and clubs, but unfortunately, most of those businesses are now closed. Today, the community has grown, so the demand is high, but the supply is low; however, our goal is to build a place to play together. 2021 is all about inclusion. With Fountain Haus, we are building a home for everyone. It’s an LGTBQ Haus, but we welcome our allies and want it to be that space where everyone feels safe and fabulous, no matter your orientation, race, or age. 2. What do you anticipate the demographic split to be re: orientation and gender?
We are purposely building a space that will appeal to everyone. Food, drinks, and entertainment will be available in each room, but you can pick the vibe you want. You will have the option to dance your heart out, relax on the roof for a chill sunset, dinner with a spectacular drag show, or a date in the speakeasy. We have endless possibilities to play within the haus.
What is your concept behind the entertainment component?
This is where we want to stand out. The team has extensive experience in this arena. Ryan Overberg worked in NYC at Therapy Lounge in Hells Kitchen as the entertainment director, working with and creating new shows and events to enhance seven days of entertainment. Dan Meiners and David Brinkerhoff own Studio Dan Meiners here in Kansas City, where Dan is a respected and awarded designer/planner of large-scale chic events. David has 30 years of experience in business, specializing in commercial and hospitality insurance. The 3 of us together can develop creative shows, events, and parties and know how to make them a reality. Weekends, of course, will be fabulous, but we plan on making incredible events on any day of the week. No Rules, No Limits.
Have we changed at all because of the pandemic in terms of how we socialize and mix in a venue and do you think this space addresses that shift?
COVID made us distance ourselves for everyone's safety, so it became a habit not to pack into a small space. Because of our size, people won't need to pack in and will be able to move freely throughout the space. Also, having a sizable outdoor rooftop space is a massive benefit for our guests to have open air.
The official grand opening of all the spaces will happen in April, tied to the celebration of Fountain Day with reservations required for the Siren Speakeasy. For more information, follow Fountain Haus on Facebook and on Instagram at @fountainhauskc.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe this holiday season and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
· Can be self-collected under supervision by lightly-trained individuals (so no onsite medical professional required)
· Results within 24 hours of receipt at our lab
· Lab capacity to process tens of thousands of additional tests
· Manufacturing capacity to meet any order size
· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.