Kent State Basketball Game to Highlight University’s Ongoing Commitment to Autism Awareness

Fans of the Kent State University Golden Flashes looking to follow their favorite players on the court will have to look for their jersey numbers and not their names at a special men’s basketball game later this week.

Players will be wearing student-designed uniforms with the space on the back that is usually designated for their names instead displaying the phrase “1 in 59” to promote autism awareness and education.

One in 59

The “1 in 59” statistic refers to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found that one in 59 children is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. The jerseys bearing this message are the result of a design contest held within Kent State’s Fashion School and created in partnership with Under Armour®, Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Student Accessibility Services.

Kent State will wear the jerseys Feb. 15 against the Ohio University Bobcats. The Bobcats’ staff will join the Golden Flashes in the awareness effort by wearing the autism puzzle ribbon, and players on both teams will be wearing light blue shoelaces – a designated color for autism awareness.

Ongoing Awareness, Education and Inclusion

Giveaways at the game will include puzzle-shaped stress toys and autism awareness T-shirts. These shirts, featuring the winning design from a student contest in Kent State’s Fashion School, will be available for all students and the first 500 fans in attendance. Kent State’s Fashion School was recently named as one of the top 25 fashion schools in the world by Fashionista, a renowned source for fashion news.

Fans with sensory sensitivities can access free sensory bags with noise-canceling headphones, fidget activity toys and communication cards for nonverbal individuals. Kent State’s Memorial Athletic and Convocation (MAC) Center is recognized as a sensory-inclusive venue. Staff members within the MAC Center have received sensory training and are available if assistance is required.

Throughout the game experience, Kent State will share messaging to promote autism awareness and education. Local nonprofit organizations supporting the event include the Autism Society of Greater Akron, ASPIES of Greater Akron and Autism Society of Greater Cleveland, as well as Kent State student organizations Autism Connections Kent, DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring) and Alpha Xi Delta. Several of these groups will have tables inside the MAC Center to provide more information on autism and autism-related services.

Promoting a Culture of Inclusion

“Kent State President Todd Diacon believes that kindness and mutual respect are among the qualities that make a Kent State Golden Flash truly golden,” said Todd Snider, Kent State’s assistant vice president for marketing strategy. “Our ongoing efforts in promoting autism awareness and education embrace these values as well as the university’s foundational commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and President Diacon’s ‘Flashes Take Care of Flashes’ initiative.”

On Dec. 21, 2019, Kent State hosted a sensory-friendly basketball game that featured a game experience altered to accommodate guests with sensory issues.

Earlier this year, Kent State men’s basketball hosted another, unplanned landmark event for autism awareness and education. On Nov. 6, 2019, freshman center Kalin Bennett scored his first basket as a Golden Flash. Bennett is believed to be the first true freshman diagnosed with autism to sign a national letter of intent to play Division I men’s basketball.

Autism spectrum disorder is among the many brain-centered conditions being studied by Kent State’s Brain Health Research Institute. Founded in 2019, the Brain Health Research Institute is dedicated to researching brain health across the lifespan and collaborating across disciplines to promote discovery and innovation.

Ticket Sales Will Benefit Autism Organizations

Discount tickets for the Feb. 15 game will be available through the Kent State ticket website by entering the code “autism” at checkout.

Several local, nonprofit organizations, including the Autism Society of Greater Akron, ASPIES of Greater Akron and Autism Society of Greater Cleveland, will receive tickets to sell at reduced prices. When buying tickets, purchasers will enter a unique code that will determine which specific organization will receive a donation of half the price of the ticket.

Kent State student organizations Autism Connections Kent, DREAM and Alpha Xi Delta will also be selling tickets at reduced prices, with half of the proceeds going back to these organizations and Alpha Xi Delta’s chosen philanthropy, Autism Speaks, when purchased using a specific code.

For tickets, visit www.kentstatesports.com/autism.

For more information about Kent State Athletics, visit www.kentstatesports.com.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Papatheodorou, mpapathe@kent.edu, 330-672-1731
Eric Mansfield, emansfie@kent.edu, 330-672-2797

POSTED: Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - 9:57am
UPDATED: Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 8:41am
WRITTEN BY:
Phil Soencksen