Learn more about the workshops featured during Inclusion Festival ONLINE. 

Brain Dance, Hoop Yoga and Juggling for ALL with Benjamin Berry

BrainDance (ON DEMAND IN THE CREATION ZONE) – This series of exercises guides participants through eight fundamental developmental movement patterns. Moving through these patterns reorganizes the central nervous system, promotes mind-body connectivity, boosts energy, and reduces stress.

Hoop Yoga– Did you know that hula hoops can aid in facilitating yoga poses? Enjoy a fun, accessible hoop yoga flow that will invigorate you and relieve stress. No hoop? Try using a scarf or broomstick!

Juggling for ALL– Learn the basics of toss juggling with common household items like scarfs or plastic grocery bags. Since we toss across the midline of the body, this activity targets bilateral integration in addition to grip/grasp control, focus, and self-efficacy.

Benjamin Berry is a professional hoop dancer, circus artist, teaching artist, and performer based in Buffalo, NY who has been hosting workshops across the country since the summer of 2015. Benjamin has received training in Holistic Circus Therapy, which utilizes occupational therapy principles to build physical, cognitive, emotional, and social capacities, as well as the developmental movement-based BrainDance Method through the Creative Dance Center. Benjamin’s mission is to spread the physical, emotional, and social benefits of creative movement to people of all ages and levels of ability, helping them become more confident, empowered, and embodied.

Autism is Love with Sam Huber

Love is what people seek when it comes to connecting with others. Love is the total acceptance of ourselves and others. It is not an easy task whether you are on the Autism Spectrum or not. In this workshop, Sam discusses how Autistic people’s varied ability to speak, tendency to miss social cues, and sensory sensitivities are all forms of love and encourages all people to learn to love themselves more. 

Sam is an author, father, public speaker and autism advocate who was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of 14. Rather than blame Aspergers for any difficulties that he has encountered, Sam made it his mission to use what he has learned to help others on the spectrum. Since graduating in 2012 with a degree in Psychology, Sam has worked with people on the Autism Spectrum in both a school setting as well as a crisis center. Currently, he is working on a book that is about autism, self-love, and romantic relationships. He created and manages the official YouTube of Inclusion Festival, InclusionTube, where he interviews Inclusion Festival participants about their work, perspectives, festival experiences, and understanding of inclusion. Sam also hosts other shows on his personal channel including Heroes of Autism and Adulting While on then Spectrum. 

Improvisational Yoga Flow with Taraleigh Weathers

It’s impossible to do yoga wrong. Phew! A yoga experience for anyone who defines themselves as having a body, this class will having you breathing, moving, stretching, meditating and dancing. Taraleigh’s flows are designed to get you out of your head and into your body. Leave feeling better than you did when you started while gaining all the tools you need to bring all those magical yoga feels into the rest of your day.

Taraleigh is a live music fan, journalist, social media influencer, and self-help guru who has dedicated her life to inspiring, entertaining, and helping others. Her popular workshops that teach other music lovers how to beat the “post-show blues” and live with intention, vulnerability, and authenticity have made her a staple of the festival scene and beyond. In 2018, Taraleigh published her first book, How To Rock Your Life: Maintain The Magic Of Live Music In Your Everyday Experience.

Be Patient, Be Present, Be Joyful with Ryan Stanley

Please join us for Be Patient, Be Present, Be Joyful where Certified Professional Life and Self Leadership Coach, Ryan Stanley, takes some of the biggest concepts of personal growth and self-development, and condenses them down to a quick and easy to understand, fun but poignant self-awareness guided conversation. He provides the tools to patch up those feelings of stress, overwhelm and anxiety that we all experience, so we can heal on our own. People of all ages and backgrounds will benefit from sharing time and space with Ryan as he explores these concepts and prepares them to go out and travel through the daily adventure of life.

Ryan Stanley is a lifelong entrepreneur who is known for his impressively natural ability to connect with, understand and empower those who are willing to make significant changes in their personal and professional lives so they can end up being the best versions of themselves. Since graduating from The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) in 2009 as a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) Ryan has changed the lives of hundreds of clients from all walks of life. More recently, Ryan has also been working at his alma mater as both an Admissions Coach, and as their first ever Internal Coach where he coached staff from entry level to C suite on everything from daily professional growth to how they want to show up energetically in other more personal areas of their life.

In July of 2019 Ryan published his first book titled ‘Be Patient, Be Present, Be Joyful: A First Aid Kit for the Emotional Bumps, Scrapes, and Bruises of Life‘. It can be found anywhere that books are sold and on his own website, linked below. In the Spring of 2020 Ryan took his sales and coaching expertise to new levels by co-founding Teach Me to Sell, an online Sales Training Organization focusing on working closely with Service Oriented SoloPreneurs or SOS’s (Coaches, Consultants, Direct Sales) as well as those new to any sales role in purpose driven organizations to help them push past fears and blocks around sales.

The Movement of Joy with Naila Ansari

The Movement of Joy defines and imagines joy through the archiving of performance, looking and shifting the concept of oral histories to movement histories. This workshop is an exploration and series of embodied mediations of storytelling from an improvisational practice deriving from the African American Spiritual. The workshop will end with a question and answer portion with Naila Ansari and dance accessibility advocate April Biggs, MFA. 

A native of Buffalo, New York, Naila Ansari is a Cum Laude Graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts Program. She is an original and former principal dancer for the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, where the company was named “Top 25 Dance Companies to Watch” by Dance Magazine in 2012-2013. Naila also danced and performed works for the legendary Lula Washington Dance Theatre out of Los Angeles, California. Naila is a fellow visiting Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo State College and in her final year as a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance at The University at Buffalo. Most recently, Naila has had her choreography performed at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Bollywood Dance for EVERYONE with Gaitrie Subryan

Immerse yourself in the fluidity of Indian dancing, to the upbeat popular Bollywood songs. In this exciting dance lesson, traditional Indian dancing is fused together with modern Bollywood dance elements, giving you a fantastic Bollywood dance class!!! This class will be accessible to all levels and experience. Feel free to sit in a comfortable chair and work with just the hands or get up and move your feet in your space.

Choreographer, Professional Bollywood Dancer, and Certified Adult and Kids Yoga Instructor. Gaitrie Devi is based in the Buffalo, NY area. When Gaitrie moved to Buffalo in 2012, she noticed the lack of Indian dance classes being offered to the community in the area. She acted quickly to bring Buffalo the culture and traditions of Indian dance. Over the years she has connected with the community by offering workshops, classes, bringing notable guest instructors to the area. Gaitrie has created the first Bollywood Performing Troupe to grace the stages of events and venues in the Western New York area, the troupe consists of women from all ethnic backgrounds and training in various forms of dance. Gaitrie has a mission, and that is to continue to offer a platform for individuals from all backgrounds to experience Indian dance and culture. Gaitrie is a proud mother of 3 (a 4-year-old boy and twin 22-month-old girls), her hope is that, through dance and her stories, she can share with them a little piece of where they come from and their families’ roots.

Relaxing Sound Bath with Katie Emmitt

Relax, rejuvenate, and surrender, while being guided through a beautiful sound journey. Sound healing is a great way to move stagnant energy in the chakras and biofield through vibration, and to reduce built up stress and anxiety by creating a soothing meditative environment with simple sounds & healing frequencies for the brain to focus on. Sound baths are great for people who would like to meditate more often, but struggle to keep their mind from wandering in 100 directions! 

Katie is an Intuitive Healer, Medium, and Teacher living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After discovering her intuitive abilities several years ago and developing her mediumship skills, Katie got her Kundalini Reiki Master certificate and opened her practice, Katie Emmitt Integrative Wellness in 2019. 
Katie’s primary goal is to help raise the vibration of humanity through teaching, and bringing her clients healing by helping them to reduce stress, anxiety, and fear. She incorporates Reiki, Coaching, Guided Meditation, Sound Healing, Mediumship, and Multidimensional Quantum Healing into her practice to provide very personalized healing sessions for each of her clients. She firmly believes in the connection between the mind, body, and spirit and believes that when one is out of balance or unwell, the rest are easily affected. This leads her to take a holistic approach in her healing methods, looking for the root cause of her client’s ailment.

Found Poetry with Donnie Welch

Found Poems are pieces of writing created like a work of visual art. Rather than writing, poets use newspapers, advertisements, brochures, old textbooks, and more to find the words they want to use. Constructing the poem though involves a bit of demolition! Poet and author Donnie Welch walks participants through two different versions of found poetry: black out or erasure poetry and collage poetry. These styles are both readily adaptable and can be completed using every day, household objects for supplies. The workshop will take participants through the technique of creating found poetry and offer insight into the creative process behind crafting a poem. You will need paper, scissors, a pencil and glue or tape for this workshop.

Donnie Welch (he/him/his) is a poet and educator who has worked with students with intellectual, developmental, and multiple disabilities since 2014. He began work as a teaching assistant at the Kennedy Day School in Brighton, MA before moving to New York City and starting at the Rebecca School where he developed an individualized creative writing curriculum for students there over the course of three years. Along with his education work, Welch is a published poet and children’s author. When not teaching or writing, he can most likely be found hiking in Inwood Hill Park, the Hudson Valley, or along the Appalachian Trail.

Grateful Drumming with Joe Ciarvella

Grateful Drumming with Joe Ciarvella is a no experience necessary, fun, engaging, how-to guide using drumming and mindfulness as a tool for wellness and brain maintenance. The only requirement is a willingness to try! In this online iteration, participants can use common household items or simply their laps to participate. 

Joe Ciarvella is a life long touring, performing and recording musician and drum circle facilitator with over 40 years of experience! Joe has performed with various members of the Grateful Dead and their extended roster of musicians including Mickey Hart! Joes life long love of drumming led him to the drum circle facilitator in 2016. Since then, Joe’s drumming has impacted countless lives. Joe’s program is endorsed by the PA department of education through the Schuylkill IU29’s ACHIEVE federal after school program.

Chair Yoga with Tatiana Santa Lucia

Chair yoga is a gentle form of seated yoga that offers the same benefits of traditional yoga to people with limited mobility, or those just looking for a portable, accessible practice.

Tatiana is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist certified in teaching Aquatic Therapy & Rehabilitation and Yoga. She is the owner of Calming Waters Therapy in Miami, Florida. Her practice offers aquatic therapy programs and yoga classes to adults with disabilities, seniors, adults with orthopedic injuries, stress or mental health conditions.

Magic for ALL with Captain Swirly

People of all ages will be entertained with magic tricks, balloons, hoops, and more!

Captain Swirly has been entertaining kids of all ages with his unique brand of family entertainment for over 8 years- Based out of Philadelphia, his manic magic show and balloon animals are perfect for birthday parties, school or camp events – really anything that could stand a little extra swirl! While he misses seeing people outside at fests this summer- Captain Swirly has been adapting his show to a virtual presentation that can be enjoyed in a socially distant fashion!

Fun with Mandalas with Brink Ross


Be entertained, inspired, and engaged in this workshop that is part visual art experience and part mandala tutorial. Mandalas are geometric figures made by a repeating pattern. In many spiritual traditions, mandalas are used for focusing attention, building unity, and fostering feelings of peace.

Christopher “Brink” Diorio (aka Brink Ross) is the Art Director of Inclusion Festival and the founder of Brink Ink LLC and the Art Jam Sector, a mobile space that invites creative collaboration. He believes art is an essential function for all human beings to not only express themselves, but to unify us all in an organic creative field. He created the Art Jam Sector in 2012 to make creating artwork more accessible to people at various events and wherever he goes. His work spans over numerous mediums including but not limited to painting, jewelry making, carpentry, 3D Design, music and much more. Being a Waldorf student interested in learning as many creative processes as possible from a young age, he has found his greatest source of inspiration and joy in helping others to facilitate their own creative processes.

Horses Can Help with Gina Taylor, OTR/L


This workshop provides an overview for parents, caregivers, participants and professionals in the many ways that horses can help people. Horses and humans have a long history together and horses have been used in many ways to help people. This workshop focuses on the current ways people are partnering with horses for healing. Adpative horseback riding, interactive vaulting, driving, para-equestrian, mental health and hippotherapy are all special ways that horses can help people of all abilities.

Gina Taylor MS, OTR/L, HPCS is a New Jersey licensed occupational therapist who believes in the power of nature to help children and their families experience a greater quality of life. Her vision inspiring Epona Therapy Services to provide home-based occupational therapy services in New Jersey and consulting services for families and clinicians around the country.

Jammin’ in Mr. Jim’s Studio with Jim Gaven


Jammin’ in Mr. Jim’s Studio is a fun and educational space where individuals learn how the basics of voice, percussion, and sign language. Individuals will warm their voices up with silly vocal techniques, sing along to call and response songs, play along to simple percussive rhythms, and use sign language to communicate.

Armed with the goal of helping others, Jim Gaven’s mission is to improve the quality of life through music. Whether it be writing and performing songs that make you think of a good time in your life, make you feel good about yourself, and most of all, put a smile on your face or teaching guitar, piano, bass, ukulele, drums/percussion, and voice on a one-on-one basis or in a group, he’s ready, willing, and able to make a positive difference in the world. From day programs and group homes serving and supporting those with developmental disabilities to nursing homes/assisted living facilities for those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia to substance abuse/rehabilitation centers for those with addiction to mental health organizations to children’s library programs to hospitals to homeless shelters/soup kitchens, the upbeat musician from NJ truly believes that music has the ability to perform miracles. Quoted as saying, ‘I want to inspire you to do great things as I have been inspired. The fact that you can create something out of nothing and have it last forever is amazing to me. This is a true testament to the everlasting impact we can all have on each other, and Jim hopes to bring that kind of attitude to the forefront through song and music expression in his solo work as well as his work running Key of Awesome Music, LLC.

My Life with Colors with Jeremy Sicile-Kira


This  is the  story of Jeremy Sicile-Kira (autistic and minimally speaking)who types to communicate  and how he became the artist he is today. Jeremy wrote this story of his life as a presentation that he often gives at local elementary schools. In this video,  Jeremy paints in his art studio while Chantal Sicile-Kira  reads and plays the powerpoint images Jeremy has chosen for this talk. Jeremy, now 31, lives a fully included and self-determined life of his choosing, and works as a professional artist.

In 2012, San Diego-based intuitive artist Jeremy Sicile-Kira (who communicates by typing) began to tell others about his dreams: dreams that he was painting the emotions of people into colorful abstract portraits. One night he dreamt that he painted ten of his paintings and had an art show. Jeremy was encouraged to make this dream come true, and began to paint in real life. In 2016 his first curated solo art show was covered by national and local media, resulting in a sold-out show and many private commissions. Awards include: 2016 ART San Diego Spotlight Artist; RMG’s 2016 Platform Artist of the Year, Finalist.

Jeremy is adept at capturing and painting the positive emotions of individuals, couples, babies, pets, organizations, and corporate cultures.

Preparing for College & Independence with Anne Showers and Barbara Boese


Your child with a disability is now a young adult and getting ready to move out on their own. Learn what steps to take to prepare for this exciting transition to adulthood, what habits to start incorporating now to get them ready, and what to keep in mind as they start to be more independent. We have included some important information for college-bound students.

Anne Showers is a New York State certified teacher with a masters in education, certified advanced academic coach, advanced tutor, advanced mentor, and trainer through the National Tutoring Association, and founder/CEO of Accessible Academics, a nonprofit that supports post-secondary students with disabilities.

Barbara Boese, B.A. in Sociology and Psychology, has over 25 years of experience providing case management services and program administration. From 2014- 2018, as the State of Delaware Vocational Rehabilitation Contracts and Programs Administrator, she has developed, implemented and evaluated Pre-Employment Transition Services, Employment Placement, Supported Employment and Supported Education services to agencies that serve students, youth, and adults with disabilities.

Exploring Neurodiversity in the Workplace with Amanda Zorzi


This workshop will define neurodiversity and answer related questions like “what qualifies as a neurotype?” and “how much of the population is neurodivergent?” We’ll explore ways we can leverage different perspectives in the workplace such as looking at our own strengths and balancing them with those we work with. We’ll then dive into the ways that typical hiring processes pose arbitrary boundaries for qualified autistic candidates and the skill-based hiring solutions that the Neurodiversity in the Workplace team has found to be successful. Finally, we’ll review some practical tips for collaborating effectively on a neurodiverse team.

Amanda Zorzi, MT-BC is an employment and training specialist with the organization, Neurodiversity in the Workplace. She sees a future where neurodivergence is understood and valued through increased accessibility in leisure and in employment. Amanda is committed to taking steps toward this future, and is excited to be a part of this incredible gathering of like-minded individuals. By trade, she is a board-certified music therapist, and lets empathy lead her in every professional project.

Reduce Stress, Ease Tension, Speak with Love, and Live Toxin-Free with Kelsey Fox Bennett Boyd


In a mini-series of workshops, Kelsey will provide tips and strategies for easing stress and tension, communicating with love, living in a way that is aligned with optimal health and wellness.

Kelsey Fox Bennett Boyd, M.Ed. is an Intuitive Healer, Educator and Coach who serves all ages of Highly Sensitive Souls. Licensed in Brain Gym and trained in Angel Card Mastery, Yoga, Mindfulness, Movement Based Learning and more, Kelsey creates a safe space for her students and clients to rewire old patterns and receive more love.

How to Lift Your Mood and Connecting with Nature with Sarah Hall


How to Lift Your Mood (Balance Zone)- Learn to balance the ups and downs through a spiritual practice.

Connecting with Nature (Nature Zone)- Suggestions for connecting with nature by tapping into the universal divine flow of health, balance, abundance, wisdom, and peace.

Sarah Hall is an international spiritual teacher, Angel channeler, and YouTuber. Sarah specializes in communicating with Angels, Ascended Masters, and Spirit Guides to deliver messages of love and healing to her clients and students. With over ten years of experience and clients in 25 countries, Sarah has a devoted passion for guiding spiritual empowerment. Sarah is the host of the podcast “Through the Eyes of the Angels” and is author to over 20 widely celebrated guided meditations. Sarah believes that we all have the power to commune with the divine to transform our lives, and that we begin to do so through self-discovery.

Turn Your Stress into Dancing, My Mental Health Wellness Routine, and Vegan is Love Storytime with Breezy Spreadlove 


Turn Your Stress into Dancing (Expression Zone)- Get off the battlefield and onto the dance floor. Take all that energy and move it with your body. Angry? Instead of venting and saying things you might regret later, express that frustration with a little movement. Let’s become more aware of our energy and get used to moving it around!

My Mental Health Wellness Routine (Root Zone)- Quarantine is causing us to confront our darkness and gives us perspective on what is most important. In this video, Breezy shares her struggles with fitness, what she does to check in with her emotions, and the tricks she uses to pull herself out of depression.

Vegan is LOVE Storytime (Love Zone)- Enjoy a children’s book that explains the Vegan Lifestyle.

Brianna “Breezy Spreadlove” Scott was born and raised in Michigan and lives by the motto “Stay Healthy Stay Light & Don’t give up the Fight.” Working hard to fulfill her dream to help others, she completed her Master’s in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on Holistic Health. She has been a leader for two spiritual youth retreats to South Manitou Island, and has experience guiding others on journeys of self-discovery. In addition to her field experience, she is a YouTube personality known as Breezy SpreadLove, promoting a positive mindset and creative healing.

Abstract Tree Painting, Loving Yourself, Being Awesome, Healing Crystals and Meditation with Shannon Shine


Abstract Tree Painting (Creation Zone)- Shannon takes an old canvas and recycles it into some abstract magic. Feel free to join along or do your own thing.

Why Should You Not Be Awesome? (Root Zone)- Shannon discusses an amazing quote by Marianne Williamson as well as why its important to not be afraid of life.

Ego Eradicator Meditation (Balance Zone)- Follow along to this upbeat meditation, inspired by spiritual teacher Gabrielle Burnstein. 

Loving Yourself (Love Zone)- It’s so easy to not show ourselves the love and compassion we deserve. We teach others how to treat us. Reprogram your brain so that the universe knows you are ready to accept love and abundance.

Healing Crystals (Nature Zone)- Learn about using Crystals as healing tools and combine them with Reiki and more. The properties and uses of a number of useful crystals and a brief overview of Reiki and energy healing will be explained.

Shannon is a multi talented speaker and artist. You can find her doing many things such as sharing podcasts, discussions, and workshops on inspirational topics to creating all kinds of things with her hands. Her mission is to be a light for others while also helping them ignite their true passions, and find a deeper connection with the divine spirit. As an intuitive energy worker and transformational coach Shannon likes to use her spiritual channel to help give messages of hope to others. You can find many of her messages of hope and tips on staying focused and getting back in touch with spirits in her podcasts Awakening with the girls or Bring Me 2 life. Shannon is also an artist and creator of Copper and Shine alchemy which features a variety of crystals, art, jewelry, and holistic goods.

Laughter Yoga and Meditation Series with Selomon Closson


In a series of meditations, Selomon guides listeners to explore a variety of themes including self-confidence, self-expression, creativity, balance, loving kindness, and healing.

Laughter Yoga with PinOakRising (Root Zone)- Enjoy a series of breathing exercises, gentle stretches, and laughter yoga, a playful modern exercise that involves extended periods of laughing to evoke a sense of joy and wellbeing. 

Selomon has been involved as a leader in multiple communities for almost 10 years. Together with his partner Shannon Shine, they began the Bring Me 2 Life Community and Network which is a community based on the principles of Love, Peace, Equality, and Unity that has been growing through podcasts and more since 2014. He has been consciously working with meditation and sound since 2011 and enjoys sharing them on YouTube for others to participate. He also enjoys traveling the country hosting classes and workshops on topics like sound medicine and astral projection. Selomon is also a performer, artist, musician, author, and enjoys expressive channeling in many forms.

Opening Ceremony with Leah Barron, Amy Pinder, Michele Mizeski and Greg Ogden

Join the Inclusion Festival ONLINE opening ceremony for a heartfelt welcome message, grounding breath work, a short loving-kindness meditation, and to set intentions for the weekend event. 

Leah Barron, MAT, RYT 200 is the Co-Founder of Inclusion Festival. She is a mother, music lover, special education teacher, and yoga teacher passionate about sharing the benefits of yoga and mindfulness with individuals of all ages and abilities.

Amy Pinder, MA, CCC-SLP is the Co-Founder of Inclusion Festival and the Executive Director of Accessible Festivals. She is a yogi, hula hooper, arts enthusiast, and speech-language therapist who loves to incorporate joyful, regulatory, and play-based movement such as yoga, juggling, and hula hooping into her sessions with clients of all abilities.

Michele Mizeski has been practicing yoga and meditation in 2007. She has been teaching since 2014 when she received her certification in Hatha Yoga at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in California, where she was given the name, Padma, meaning “The Lotus.”  Since then, she has been continuing her education in Yoga Therapy, Yin Yoga, and Aerial Yoga.

Greg Ogden Greg has been teaching mindfulness meditation techniques to children and adults for the past four years. Greg is certified in “Using Mindfulness with At-Risk Youth” through The Mind Body Awareness Project. He is also a Certified Hypnotist through Hypnosis Motivation Institute and offers non-medical hypnocounseling services for stress management, intention setting, and behavior and habit modification.


Learn more about the talks and panel discussions featured during Inclusion Festival ONLINE. 

A Conversation with Temple Grandin

Listen in on a conversation about autism, play, music and inclusion with award-winning author, autism advocate, and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, Dr. Temple Grandin. 

Dr. Grandin did not talk until she was three and a half years old.  She was fortunate to get early speech therapy.  Her teachers also taught her how to wait and take turns when playing board games.  She was mainstreamed into a normal kindergarten at age five.  Oliver Sacks wrote in the forward of Thinking in Pictures that her first book Emergence: Labeled Autistic was “unprecedented because there had never before been an inside narrative of autism.”  Dr. Sacks profiled Dr. Grandin in his best selling book Anthropologist on Mars.

Dr. Grandin became a prominent author and speaker on both autism and animal behavior.  Today she is a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.  She also has a successful career consulting on both livestock handling equipment design and animal welfare.  She has been featured on NPR (National Public Radio) and a BBC Special – “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow”. She has also appeared on National TV shows such as Larry King Live, 20/20, Sixty Minutes, Fox and Friends, and she has a 2010 TED talk.  Articles about Dr. Grandin have appeared in Time Magazine, New York Times, Discover Magazine, Forbes and USA Today. HBO made an Emmy Award winning movie about her life and she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.

When she was young, she was considered weird and teased and bullied in high school.  The only place she had friends was activities where there was a shared interest such as horses, electronics, or model rockets.  Mr. Carlock, her science teacher, was an important mentor who encouraged her interest in science.  When she had a new goal of becoming a scientist, she had a reason for studying.  Today half the cattle in the United States are handled in facilities she has designed.

The Power of Music

Listen in on a panel discussion about the power of music, featuring Matt Butler, Pete Kozak, and Macheis Wind.

Matt Butler is the Founder and Conductor of Everyone Orchestra, a blissful, masterfully conducted, fully spontaneous explosion of live music created by a rotating cast of world renowned musicians. Each show is 100% unique, as a carefully curated lineup of performers (from bands as preeminent as the Grateful Dead, Phish, The Meters, King Crimson, Ween, Widespread Panic, etc.) is guided through mostly up-tempo, danceable grooves under the creative leadership of Matt’s cues and improvised whiteboard directives. Matt is also the Chief Event Orchestrator of IGE Music and Art Immersions, an educational nonprofit public charity governed by artists for benefit of the arts, artists, communities and societies worldwide.

Pete Kozak is a Behavioral Therapist, teacher, percussionist and the Founder of Especially Everyone, an inclusive, engaging concert experience designed to make live music more accessible to people that may find some elements of a traditional concert challenging, including people with special needs. Pete believes that music is among the most powerful forms of human connection, and that we are all better off when we come together to listen, to dance, and to celebrate life.

Macheis Wind is a musician, advocate, author, and the Founder of Guitar Tree, a non-profit organization that offers therapeutic, violence prevention, and character education programs to the most neglected communities and individuals, within at-risk populations. Through the power of music, the message of healing, learning, and empowerment is conveyed to thousands of children, teens, women, and families across the tri-state area.

A Conversation with Lauren Melissa

Listen in on a conversation about the differences in communication and empathy that exist among autistic people so that we can bridge the gap and all learn to understand one another better.

Lauren Melissa, known across social media as Autienelle, is an autistic advocate and social justice influencer. She seeks to cultivate awareness and acceptance for the actually autistic community through neurodiversity activism. Even more, she actively engages in dialogue across lines of difference, highlighting the inequitable systems that oppress queer and BIPOC communities. Through Instagram, Lauren addresses everyday coping strategies for autistics by answering questions through “Autietips.” In this way, she seeks to build a society where autistics nurture autistics as we strive against ableism toward a destination of true inclusion.

The Ben and J Show hosted by Ben Hartranft and Jamiel Owens


Listen in on a panel discussion featuring the perspectives of five people impacted by autism. They will talk about what inclusion means to them, tell their stories and pose questions for the audience to be involved in their own way. We hope these discussions will make you feel loved and included.

Ben Hartranft is a self-advocate, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Ben has achieved many dreams, from getting a job and a driver’s license to becoming an Eagles Autism Challenge Ambassador to promoting autism awareness on The Ellen Show!

Jamiel Owens is a father to Shane, who is on the autism spectrum. Jamiel has a passion for speaking to and engaging with other men who have children with autism. He founded The Ausome Show, where he has had an opportunity to interview self-advocates, like Ben, as well as other parents and community members.

Every Friday night from 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Ben and Jamiel co-host The Ben & J Show, a LIVE webinar that features a variety of exciting guests to talk about autism awareness. We invite you to join us in on the conversation!

A Conversation with Austin Whitney

Listen in on a conversation with Accessible Festivals Co-Founder and Board President, Austin Whitney. Austin discusses his own life experience living with a disability, how and why he co-founded Accessible Festivals, how accessibility at live festivals and concerts has changed over time, and what operations currently look like at large-scale temporary events across the country. 

Austin Whitney is co-founder of Accessible Festivals, President of Ten Fifty Entertainment, and holds a law degree from UC Berkeley. Today Austin works to insure ADA Compliance at some of the nation’s largest festivals. Paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a car accident, Austin understands the true nature of disabilities, and the corresponding needs that arise in a festival environment essential for individuals with disabilities. Utilizing this “human element” philosophy as the core of Accessible Festivals’ mission, Austin applies his legal knowledge and personal experience with a disability toward developing a better way of creating practical accessible environments at music festivals, concerts, and other events.

A Conversation with Sabeerah Najee

Listen in on a conversation the life experiences and unique perspectives of Sabeerah Najee, who is passionate about normalizing the conversation about race and disability in the music industry.

Sabeerah is a black, female, disabled DJ. She is a member of Soulection, which has been a cornerstone of creativity for innovative musicians, crate-digging DJs, and open-minded fans from across the world. What began as an independent radio show has since blossomed into a global community of artists and audiences, united in a borderless, genre-bending, musical movement.

A Conversation with EmiSunshine

Listen in on a conversation about EmiSunshine’s experience as a young musician, and about the motivation behind writing “90 miles,” a song about life with autism. Also enjoy Emi perform this heartfelt song!

EmiSunshine is a critically-acclaimed teen music prodigy and national sensation delivering a unique blend of roots music that is equal parts Americana, Bluegrass, Gospel, and Country with a sprinkle of Blues. Rolling Stone once named 15-year-old EmiSunshine among “10 new country artists you need to know.” Emi has been attracting national attention since the age of nine, with appearances on “The Today Show,” NBC’s “Little Big Shots,” “Pickler & Ben,” the Grand Ole Opry and elsewhere. In 2018, she was featured in the Grammy-nominated Elvis Presley documentary film “The King,” alongside Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Ashton Kutcher, Alec Baldwin and other stars.