Jacksonville Icemen’s Community First Igloo becomes first of its kind to earn autism certification

Jacksonville Icemen during the first period of an ECHL hockey game against the Brampton Beast at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. [Gary Lloyd McCullough/For the Jacksonville Icemen] (Gary Lloyd McCullough, © Gary Lloyd McCullough 2020)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Icemen’s Community First Igloo just became the first hockey team sports venue to earn Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation, according to a release.

“This designation is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to help make venues like the Community First Igloo more accessible to autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals by completing autism-specific training and certification to better understand and welcome these visitors, who may find it challenging to visit unfamiliar places,” the release said.

Related: Take a look inside the new and improved Community First Igloo sportsplex

The certification provides families with reassurance that they can enjoy their visit to their fullest by having access to more accommodations and options if experience sensory overload or have other needs during their visit.

“We are excited to work with IBCCES and we appreciate their guidance in helping our team and the facility earn their Autism Certification,” said Icemen & Community First Igloo CEO Andy Kaufmann. “The Community First Igloo offers something for everyone, and we want to make certain that the facility is always welcoming for our autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors.”

The staff has also been trained to ensure the team has a better understanding of visitor needs and tools and resources to assist.

During the 2022-2023 season the Icemen hosted a Hockey is for All Night, that featured sensory-sensitive areas at the arena. The team is looking to create a permanent sensory space area for all of its games.

IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.

Jacksonville Icemen’s Community First Igloo becomes first of its kind to earn autism certification (REEMA PATEL)

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is an Award-Winning Digital Media and Engagement Manager for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She won "Best Social Media Engagement Strategy" during the Local Media Association 2022 Digital Innovation Awards. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.