Inaugural Inclusion Festival to offer sensory-friendly experience in Jermyn
Leah Barron and Amy Pinder shared a vision to create a sensory-friendly festival “for all ages and abilities.”
The first-ever Inclusion Festival at Mountain Sky in Jermyn is a music, arts, yoga and wellness festival geared toward individuals with autism and other neurological conditions.
Barron and Pinder have both worked in special education and always wanted to create an event like this. After traveling to Mountain Sky for a festival last summer, the duo decided the venue provided an ideal space for such an event.
“We realized we had the same dream and vision,” Pinder said.
“Everything started falling into place,” Barron added.
The festival will feature live music, workshops, a community resource fair — where individuals and families can learn about resources throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania — and activities for mindfulness.
“Our hope is to connect people with these activities,” Pinder said.
Pinder said what makes the Inclusion Festival different from a regular music festival is the consideration for different abilities. There won’t be any strobe lights; the music will be played at lower levels; and the workshops will have smaller class sizes. They also have sensory zones set up to provide individuals an opportunity for play and relaxation.
Each of the four sensory zones offers a different activity in a smaller environment. In the Expression Zone, there will be music therapy exercises and drumming. In the Creation Zone, the focus will be play, art and flow, with activities such as disk golf. The Connection Zone will have yoga, and the Balance Zone will have sensory play opportunities with essential oils.
“We’re aiming to share a lot of these strategies,” Pinder said.
Both women said they use activities such as yoga and other play exercises in their professional lives.
Pinder is a speech-language pathologist with over 10 years of experience working with individuals with neurodevelopmental differences. She has experience assessing and treating children and adults with diverse communication challenges in a variety of educational and clinical settings, including home-based intervention, preschool, public school and specialized private school programs.
Barron is special education teacher and registered yoga instructor with experience working in a variety of settings including public schools, private studios and client homes.
Both said they believe these activities promote empowerment and awareness for individuals with neurological challenges.
Barron said the opportunity to work on the festival has been “exciting and magical.”
“(Amy and I) compliment each other’s talents,” she said.
“Over the course of the year, we’ve developed a business partnership,” Pinder said.
And while the pair has worked together for the last year, they said they’re not alone in putting this festival together.
“It takes a village,” Pinder said.
She said Mountain Sky has donated the land for the festival, and through sponsors, they have fully funded the festival.
“We’re very grateful,” she said.
Some of the artists scheduled for the weekend include EmiSunshine and The Rain, Rainbow Full of Sound, The Hoppin’ Boxcars and The Merry Rockers.
Throughout the weekend, some of the artists will also host workshops; American Sign Language will be there to interpret; and Barron said they have partnered with Accessible Festivals to ensure the grounds are wheelchair and mobility-friendly.
Reach Brigid Edmunds-Lawrence at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds.
What: Inclusion Festival featuring Emi Sunshine and the Rain, Rainbow Full of Sound, The Hoppin’ Boxcars and more.
When: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Mountain Sky festival grounds, 63 Stillmeadow Lane, exit 202 off I-81, Jermyn.
Ticket Information: Weekend passes: $60/adult; $30/teen; children free. Daily tickets: $35/adult; $18/teen; children free
Additional Information: www.inclusionfestival.com