At the ABB FIA Formula E Championship Season 5 Finale on July 13-14, 2019, Stanley Black & Decker and the Envision Virgin Racing Team will create a unique, quiet racing experience for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The event aims to advance inclusion and help foster understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity — the recognition of neurological differences impacting social interaction, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. The race will take place at the Brooklyn Circuit in New York City.
Formula E is an all-electric racing series that is unique in that the cars make less noise, counterintuitive to traditional motorsports. Because it’s quiet, Formula E can be enjoyed by many fans, including some with sensory sensitivities. Stanley Black & Decker is a sponsor of the Envision Virgin Racing Team and is using its sponsorship to showcase how it is building a more inclusive company and raising awareness for neurodiversity around the world.
Autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States and 70 million people worldwide. Each person with autism has different strengths and challenges. For some people on the spectrum, sensory sensitivities can make motorsports particularly difficult to enjoy. With Formula E’s distinctively low level of noise compared to other track sports, Stanley Black & Decker, the Envision Virgin Racing Team and Autism Speaks aim to create a more inclusive race day.
This weekend, Stanley Black & Decker and their global partner, Envision Virgin Racing, will host a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children invited by Autism Speaks, which promotes solutions for the needs of people with autism and their families, and the Franklin Academy, a Connecticut preparatory school providing specialized education to adolescents with nonverbal learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder. The children and their families will get a behind-the-scenes garage tour and special race-day experience tailored to their needs, with particular attention to accommodating sensory sensitivities. These guests will also learn about STEAM-based education and careers that exist in the world of motorsport. STEAM encompasses science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
“Formula E is a unique form of motorsport and our electric engines showcase the best automotive technology,” said Envision Virgin Racing Driver Sam Bird. “I’m proud that this sport allows us to welcome new fans who may not be able to enjoy other types of motorsport due to sensory sensitivities. I’m excited to help host these families this weekend to show how our series is unique and hopefully introduce these kids to a world of STEAM careers within the sport.”
The children will also be joined by Chasing Classic Cars legend Wayne Carini, whose personal connection to autism helped inspire this initiative. Following the race, driver Sam Bird will be auctioning off his race suit, with all proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks.
Empowering People of All Abilities
Beyond race weekend, Stanley Black & Decker and Autism Speaks are partnering to create a program that will prepare people with ASD to pursue skilled-labor jobs in the manufacturing field.
Studies show that the vast majority of adults (18+) with ASD are unemployed or underemployed. As part of the company’s comprehensive social responsibility strategy, Stanley Black & Decker has a mission to empower 10 million makers and creators of all abilities by 2030. This includes preparing the workforce of tomorrow with vocational training, STEAM education and access to makerspaces.
“Stanley Black & Decker strives to build and nurture a vibrant culture in which inclusiveness is a reflex, not an initiative,” said Stanley Black & Decker President & CEO Jim Loree. “We are committed to hiring and maintaining a diverse workforce that is inclusive of employees with a range of backgrounds, abilities and needs. This also includes a commitment to raising awareness and appreciation for neurodiversity.”
The Stanley Black & Decker and Autism Speaks program will aim to empower makers through a grant program developed to suit the learning needs of individuals with ASD. The program will also coach faculty members on how to accommodate learners with ASD, work with participants to increase self-advocacy and independence as well as interpersonal skills and help them develop a peer network.
“Over the next five years, we will work together to create a community college curriculum focused on manufacturing skills,” said Angela Geiger, president and CEO at Autism Speaks. “We applaud Stanley Black & Decker for its focus on inclusion and our shared commitment to preparing people on the spectrum for meaningful careers and greater independence.”
The program will focus on communities where Stanley Black & Decker has a manufacturing presence and help create a pool of talent for the company in these areas.
An ASMR Experience
Prior to race weekend, Stanley Black & Decker released an ASMR — Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response — video. ASMR videos can help to soothe some people who are highly sensitive to sights and sounds, providing a calming, immersive and relaxing experience.
The video features racing footage and Envision Virgin Racing professionals expertly using Stanley Black & Decker tools to fine-tune a vehicle. Showcasing the tools through a sensory experience enables a new audience to appreciate their use