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—Photo courtesy of No Barriers

Breaking Barriers

One deaf artist dishes on the transformative nature of this week's No Barriers summit.

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Until the 2013 No Barriers Summit in Telluride, Mandy Harvey had never spoken in public about the fact that she was a musician who couldn’t hear. “It was a bit of jumping out of my comfort zone,” Harvey says.

The 28-year-old performer lost her residual hearing around 2006 due to a connective tissue disorder. It left her rattled. Harvey dropped out of college at Colorado State University where she was studying music education. Eventually, she got back into singing, but had never talked about what happened to her to anyone besides close family and friends. No Barriers changed that.

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The Colorado-based nonprofit aims to create transformative experiences for people with and without mental, physical, and emotional disabilities. “Everybody understands loss and pain and fear, so it gives you an area to really connect with people and be able to encourage each other to break past barriers that you have,” Harvey says.

This year’s Summit takes place June 23–26 in Copper Mountain, and Harvey will be speaking along with snowboarder Amy Purdy and retired army solider and motivational speaker J.R. Martinez. The No Barriers Summit aims to combine a full day of activities like hiking, kayaking, and yoga with cathartic speeches at night.

Dave Shurna, executive director and co-founder of No Barriers, says the experience will help participants build a community and venture outside their comfort zones. “We take this idea of pushing past barriers of all kinds and package it into this four-day energy burst,” Shurna says. “It leaves you feeling like this fire has been ignited within you.”

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