Guest Post: Creating an Inclusive Community Through the Arts at "Inclusion Festival"
This month, we are pleased to share a guest post from local blogger, Rachel Fischer, of The Most Au-Some Journey. Visit Rachel's website to read the original post and check her out on Instagram for reviews and information on neurodiversity-friendly local recreation and businesses!
"The music festival scene has embedded itself in our country’s rich history through the decades—from Woodstock to Lilith Fair to Coachella, there truly is a festival for everyone…or is there?
That’s the question that Amy Pinder continued to think about as she fell in love with music festivals. She combined her passion for music festival culture with her background in Speech and Language Pathology to ensure that EVERYONE had access to the musical festivals she herself loved so much. Thus became the “Inclusion Festival” that began in 2018 and is heading into another season this summer in Kempton, PA.nd, and I can be exactly who I am,” she said. In Amy’s heart, an idea began to sprout, and she realized that what was needed in the music festival scene was one that was inclusive to ALL people.
“There was so much opportunity to create a recreational space that welcomes everyone, that brings people together…inclusive fun,” Amy said.
Years later, Amy met Leah, a local special education teacher, who shared the desire to create an inclusive musical festival. Amy and Leah placed the autism community in the forefront of their planning, as they worked with many clients who were diagnosed with autism. She and Leah combined their experiences and backgrounds to create the Inclusion Festival: a music and craft festival that is accessible to all people and highlights the talents of neurodivergent and neurotypical artists on fairgrounds in the Lehigh Valley.
Inclusion Festival itself makes many accommodations for the autism community and those with special abilities:
Sensory friendly experiences and areas
The layout of the festival reduces crowding but still offers opportunities for gathering
Sensory respite spaces
Music played at a lower volume
Opportunities to connect with nature
Relaxing spaces and amenities that let patrons regulate while also being part of the group
Playground with certain accessible equipment options.
Other accessible experiences at Inclusion Festival:
Workshops and activities – art, finger painting, mural painting, yoga, drumming, life coaching, sensory toolkit building
Classic family fun for all ages
Vendors – food vendors (some with dietary needs in mind), crafts, information vendors/community resources
Camping accessible for the entire weekend – you are permitted to bring as much food as you would like
For Amy, one of the most rewarding experiences is the organic growth she has seen when it comes to the abilities of her participants. On applications, she is now noticing more and more artists openly disclosing their own special abilities, such as autism, ADHD, and sight impairment, among others. Amy is observing the evidence of the community she wanted to support growing in its own way. She and Leah have created a festival that is building a new community bonded in their love of the arts, and in the support of the abilities of one another.
Inclusion Festival will take place in Kempton, PA from July 14-16 (with events on the 16th being held for those camping on the fairgrounds only).
Follow @most_au_some_journey on Instagram for future giveaways on Inclusion Festival tickets for a group of 4!"
Thanks for reading, and we do hope to see you at this year's Inclusion Festival!