NEPA Scene Staff

Sensory-friendly Inclusion Festival returns to Mountain Sky in Jermyn Aug. 9-11

Sensory-friendly Inclusion Festival returns to Mountain Sky in Jermyn Aug. 9-11
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From a press release:

The second annual Inclusion Festival, the nation’s first sensory-friendly music and wellness festival for people with and without special needs, is coming up this Friday, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 11 at Mountain Sky in Jermyn.

Music festivals, which generally evoke feelings of joy, connection, and open-mindedness, are powerful platforms for inspiring social change. However, large crowds and loud music can limit opportunities and enjoyment for individuals living with sensory-processing issues like autism, ADHD, and anxiety, all of which are increasingly prevalent in the United States today.

The Inclusion Festival responds to this issue by offering a sensory-friendly, inclusive live music experience that highlights the value in all people. Accommodations will include music played at a lower volume, the absence of strobe lighting, a layout that reduces crowding, opportunities to engage in mindfulness activities, and quiet, peaceful places to take a calming break.

Returning to Mountain Sky (63 Stillmeadow Lane, Jermyn), just 10 minutes north of Scranton, the Inclusion Festival will feature live performance artists, music, educational and recreational workshops, and evidence-based therapies for all ages and abilities. There will be a community resource fair, vocational opportunities, vendors showcasing unique products and services, and more. Activities will include group exercise and dance, yoga, circus arts, interactive theater, nature walks, arts and crafts, storytelling, drumming, and sing-a-longs.

Co-founders Amy Pinder, a speech language therapist, and Leah Barron, a special education teacher, met at a music festival, share a passion for helping individuals with and without special needs, and believe that music festivals hold strong potential to strengthen self-awareness, encourage exploration of passions and interests, and connect with inner purpose to guide and sustain positive lifestyle choices. With support from organizations like Accessible Festivals, the Jerry Garcia Foundation, the Baldwin Foundation, the FAR Fund, Deutsch Institute, Scranton Area Community Foundation, Tambur Family Foundation, Lackawanna County Office of Arts and Culture, Stage Trip Productions, and many more, Pinder and Barron say the festival not only benefits those with special needs but strengthens the well-being of society overall by demonstrating the value of an inclusive community.

Whether it be a performer that has a relative or friend with special needs or the performer themselves, like family trio The Pretty Crazies whose daughter with Down syndrome loves to dance on stage, in some way or another, every musical act connects to Inclusion’s purpose. Headliners include Bethlehem’s Start Making Sense, one of the country’s most-loved Talking Heads tribute bands, and Hayley Jane and the Primates, an empowering soulful rock group from Boston. Other performers include Philadelphia funk and soul extravaganza Swift Technique, Brooklyn’s Cousin Earth, Scranton favorite MiZ, The Especially Everyone Ensemble (who presents inclusive concerts in the tri-state area), and more.

Both Pinder and Barron are thrilled to welcome people to attend and participate in this amazing event. When asked about the purpose behind the festival, Pinder, whose work as a therapist revolves around those with autism, says, “I have learned that we all have special needs, we all have special gifts and talents, and we all have a purpose.”

Advance tickets to Inclusion Festival are $30 for a one-day pass and $50 for a weekend pass. Teens and young adults ages 13-21 are half-price, and children 12 and under are free. Camping is included, and scholarships are available for families in need. Donations to support a family can be made via GoFundMe.

Tickets, sponsorship, volunteer, and vending opportunities are available now at For more information, contact

Watch NEPA Scene’s 2018 video interview with Hayley Jane and the Primates with exclusive photos here and see photos of Start Making Sense performing in downtown Scranton in 2017 here.

Photo of Hayley Jane and the Primates by Brittany Boote Photography/NEPA Scene