Pocono Raceway in Long Pond unveiled its new all-inclusive playground this week in a partnership with KultureCity, a nonprofit based in Alabama that helps children with autism.
The playground was designed for children of all ages and abilities to learn, grow and play together.
It will it be in use during race weekends at the Monroe County raceway. It also will be available, free of charge, to local residents and those visiting the Poconos through the summer and fall, after June 3. The first big race on the raceway calendar this summer is the Pocono 400, June 1-3.
The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau partnered with the raceway and named the playground #POCONOMTNS Inclusive Playground.
“Our company’s vision is to become the most beloved motorsports facility by exceeding expectations in guest services, entertainment and value while embracing our uniqueness and character,” said Nick Igdalsky, Pocono Raceway CEO.
“We’re looking forward to having a visitors center at each race so we can educate the race fans one-on-one about all of the things the Pocono Mountains has to offer,” said Brian Bossuyt, vice president of marketing of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.
KultureCity will help the raceway to promote an accommodation and positive experience for all guests and fans with sensory issues. KultureCity, through a certification process and with medical professionals, will provide training to select Pocono Raceway staff members on how to recognize and handle a sensory overload situation.
Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads, will be available to guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment, which includes the roar of car engines and fans.
Fans also will have access to two dedicated sensory rooms, one behind the grandstand and one in the infield, for those who may need a quieter and more secure environment. Additionally, a private lactation room will be available for nursing mothers near the sensory room behind the grandstand.
“To know that you soon will be able to see families attend a NASCAR event, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment,” said Traci Johnson, executive director of KultureCity. “Our communities are what shape our lives, and to know that Pocono Raceway is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”
NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, a three-time winner at Pocono, and actor Christopher Jackson, who played George Washington in the hit Broadway production “Hamilton,” attended the event.
Johnson runs charity foundations and Jackson has a child on the autism spectrum.
Pocono Raceway will house a Pocono Mountains visitors center inside the track and near the playground. The visitors center will include materials promoting local area attractions, hotels and activities.