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James McClean helps to launch new sensory hub at the Aviva Stadium

By James Fenton

January 29, 2020 at 5:18pm

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Usually, when James McClean is in town it's to play a crucial qualifier but yesterday he visited Dublin for a very different reason, namely to launch the new Aviva Stadium sensory hub.

The Stoke City winger teamed up with Aviva and former Ireland rugby player Jamie Heaslip to introduce the multi-sensory space at the Ballsbridge venue.

It is hoped that the Aviva Stadium sensory hub will benefit both children and adults living with autism or ASD and yesterday a number of families were invited to experience it for themselves.

A post on the Aviva website says that 'the stadium can be a very overwhelming environment for people with sensory issues and Aviva want to try and help to combat that.'

Speaking about his own daughter Willow, McClean told Off The Ball that while she is yet to be diagnosed with autism, he feels that 'one is due shortly.' He added that "she hasn't been to an Ireland game yet because bringing her on an aeroplane or a crowded space, with people that she doesn't know - she gets very worked up."

"I'm in a privileged position where I can get a box at Stoke or with Ireland where she can be behind glass away from the noise, and my wife and children get to watch the game as well."

McClean said that "a facility like the Aviva Sensory Hub will make all the difference for her and many other people with sensory needs when coming to matches.”

The Aviva Stadium sensory hub is open now for all visitors to use and you can read more about it here.

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