When you think about a race event as big as the Pittsburgh Marathon, you probably picture crowds with noise makers, excited racers, and amped-up music. Though the scene is fun for many of the 40,000 runners who participate, those with sensory sensitivities could potentially be overwhelmed. So this year the marathon’s organizer, P3R, has teamed up with KultureCity, a nonprofit specializing in event sensory accessibility, to add a sensory-inclusive heat to the Pittsburgh Kids Marathon.
“Adding opportunities and assistance such as this truly support P3R’s mission to inspire any and all to MOVE,” said Troy Schooley, P3R CEO. “We strive to make our events inclusive and accessible to all, and this is just another example of our commitment to the mission. We want individuals with sensory sensitivities to not only feel welcomed, but also to have a great experience while they participate.”
The one-mile heat will reduce music volume and activities and increase personal space for participants. Staff and volunteers will train with KultureCity’s Sensory Inclusive™ program to ensure safety and positive experiences for those with sensory needs like autism, PTSD, dementia, strokes, and other individualized needs. Along with their training program, KultureCity is providing sensory bags that include headphones and fidget toys along with a mobile sensory room.
“We know many participants enjoy the loud noises, large crowds, and hype prior to a race, but not everyone is the same,” Schooley said. “Thanks to our partnership with KultureCity, this Sensory Inclusive heat will allow participants a quiet place to wait near the start line and utilize sensory bags to help reduce sensory overload prior to participating.”
The effort comes in addition to the Pittsburgh Marathon’s mission to increase the event’s accessibility. Within the past year organizers have created a payment plan and scholarship program for those who struggle to afford the registration fee, implemented an open category that welcomes participants of any gender or gender expression, and added a walking division of the half marathon with increased time of street closures.
“P3R is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for all who attend and/or participate in our races, runs, events, and programs,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “There is a unifying bond among people who love running that transcends social, cultural, political, and economic barriers that typically divide us.”
Pittsburgh Marathon running events will take place on May 6-7, with the kids marathon happening on May 6. For more information visit thepittsburghmarathon.com.
Cover Photo courtesy of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon