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Opportunities for All

Honeywell Offers Sensory-Friendly Programming

Much about the Honeywell Foundation has changed over the past 78 years, but there are still key components that have endured the decades. From one property to six. From a few programs to dozens. Our mission of providing artistic, social, cultural and recreational opportunities for all remains strong in 2020 (learn about our work during the pandemic here).

We do this not only through concerts and shows at the Honeywell Center, but also through our Educational Outreach Program serving children in the classroom, our Senior Outreach Program serving adults in assisted living facilities, and diverse programming at each of our six venues.

Indeed, the Honeywell Foundation’s mission to offer these kinds of opportunities to all truly means all, including those in the U.S. population who can sometimes be overlooked.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 59 children in 2018 was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.There are many great organizations dedicated to enriching the lives of these individuals, which aligns well with the Honeywell Foundation’s mission to bring joy and enrichment to all through the arts.

One of those organizations is the AWS Foundation based out of Fort Wayne. Their mission states, “Together with like-minded community partners, we help children and adults with enduring intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities live as independently as possible, be included in the community and function at their highest potential.”

In August of 2018, we announced our collaboration with the AWS Foundation by providing sensory friendly kits at events for individuals of all ages with sensory needs. Offered at both the Honeywell Center and Eagles Theatre, these kits are designed to support individuals and families when attending events where loud noises, bright lights and unfamiliar surroundings can make it difficult to enjoy the experience.

Sensory friendly kits include noise-reducing headphones, a weight comfort item to lay on the user’s neck and shoulders, communication cards for those who are nonverbal, an ID wristband to write their name and their parent/guardian’s contact information in case of wandering, fidget toys, and antibacterial wipes to clean items before and after use. They are available for checkout at the Box Office and must be returned at the end of the event.

The kits have been well received by Honeywell guests, one of whom is Karlie Rose, a 26-year-old woman from Fishers who has nonverbal autism. Rose visited the Honeywell Center for the first time last December to attend a Mannheim Steamroller concert with her grandparents, Pamela and Mike Dempsey.

“She loves Mannheim Steamroller,” Pamela Dempsey said. “When I take her to Logansport, I have Mannheim Steamroller in my CD player in my car and we listen to it all the way there. I tell her, ‘Turn the CD player on. Push 1.’ And she’s rocking and rolling. She loves Mannheim Steamroller.”

Pamela Dempsey and Karlie Rose attend a concert at the Honeywell Center

Pamela said that earlier last year, she saw that Mannheim Steamroller was going to perform in Indianapolis, but the 7:30 p.m. performance time wasn’t conducive for Rose’s attendance.

“I saw that (the Honeywell Center) was going to have one at 3 p.m., which is better for her,” said Pamela. “So, we bought tickets and I got to tell you, the Honeywell Center’s people are wonderful because I explained to the (usher) that I bought the tickets online. I explained that my granddaughter has nonverbal autism and when she gets excited, she lets out a ‘war whoop.’ It’s the best way to describe it.

“And she said, ‘We have sensory kits. Stop by and we will give you one for that night.’ So my husband went and got it and we looked through it and saw everything. When we got to our seats, we told the people behind us - and everyone was so sweet - that Karlie has nonverbal autism and if she starts to rock back and forth in her seat or if she lets out a war whoop, she’s really enjoying the music. They said, ‘She’s fine.’