Meet the Parents Behind the NBA’s Sensory Inclusion Initiative

Who knew that a simple tweet from Amy Belles to Quicken Loans Area would result in two parents from Akron, Ohio, assisting the NBA in developing state-of-the-art sensory programs for their venues.

After a disappointing experience involving her son and an arena employee, Amy Belles contacted the Q as locals call it to suggest that their staff be trained to better accommodate individuals with autism like her son.

Before she knew it, Amy and her husband Jeff were working with NBA Cares partner KultureCity to turn the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers into the first sensory-inclusive arena in the entire country.

Being parents to a 13-year-old on the spectrum, the Belles were able to provide crucial guidance to KultureCity as they designed employee training programs, selected the contents of sensory bags, and designed the Cavaliers’ Quiet Space Room, a place for guests who need a peaceful place to enjoy the game.

Since the launching of the Q’s new training and accommodations, 11 other NBA venues have followed suit and are now also sensory-friendly, thanks to the generous help of KultureCity.

Amy and Jeff have gone on to work with other local attractions like the Akron Zoo and the Akron Children’s Museum to help establish new inclusion trainings and spaces.

These two prove an uplifting point – you never know what determined parents can accomplish! Amy and Jeff’s work has made Northeast Ohio a hub and trendsetter in the nationwide inclusion movement.

This year, Cleveland non-profit Milestones Autism Resources is honoring Amy and Jeff as leaders in the national and local inclusion. The pair were recognized on Thursday, June 14th, as a part of the Milestones National Autism Conference at the Cleveland I-X Center.  More information at