Co-Founder Jewel Talks Mental and Physical Health Ahead of This Weekend's Wellness Experience at The Banks

"This was my attempt to democratize wellness to make cutting-edge information accessible and free to everybody."

Jewel co-founded Cincinnati's The Wellness Experience with Kroger in 2018. - PHOTO: CRUSH MUSIC
Photo: Crush Music
Jewel co-founded Cincinnati's The Wellness Experience with Kroger in 2018.

Grammy-nominated singer, actress and two-time New York Times bestselling author Jewel co-founded Cincinnati's The Wellness Experience in 2018 with Kroger. The annual event features nationally known and local musicians, health-focused speakers, food demonstrations (with a focus on plant-based eating) and workout classes — all free to visitors with the donation of a non-perishable food item.

The fest — which takes place Aug. 20-21 at The Banks — includes more than "100 experiences focused on four core pillars of transformation: health, activity, nutrition and inspiration," reads a release.

Among those, Jewel will be leading her own workshop on how to deal with anxiety, Kroger will be providing free COVID-19 vaccines all weekend, Dove and Harry's will be offering beauty demos and beard trims (respectively), Mercy Health will be operating a mobile mammography van and, for the kids, there will be a special Paw Patrol experience. There will also be a special Ninja Warrior course to try.

This year, featured musicians include Quinn XCII, RaeLynn, Willie Jones and Cincinnati band Blessid Union of Souls. Tabitha Brown, Summer McKeen, Matt James, Cheryl Burke and Sheryl Underwood will also make appearances.

Ahead of this weekend's activities, we spoke with Jewel about The Wellness Experience, her relationship with health and how she works to make the event a success.

CityBeat: The goal for The Wellness Experience is to inspire “physical, emotional and mental health.” What are specific aspects of the event that do that?

Jewel: As a kid, I was frustrated that all the things I needed to learn how to be a happy human weren’t necessarily taught to me in school. And so I spent all the time trying to collect information and seek information that would really lead to a holistic approach and give people the information they need, from physical health to emotional health. The festival is a culmination of all those things.

CB: As the co founder of The Wellness Experience, how hands-on is your role in the event each year?

J: Really hands on, you know. This was my love and brainchild, and it really pains me that suffering is equal opportunity. It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white. Sadly, learning new skills can be elite because it takes education and education can take money and resources.

CB: The entirety of the Wellness Experience is free to visitors. How do you make that happen?

J: This was my attempt to democratize wellness to make cutting-edge information accessible and free to everybody. Finding information about products that are trustworthy and sustainable, where we do the curating, is exhausting. It definitely takes a lot of planning, but it’s so much fun.

CB: This event has been going on since 2018, how do you want to make 2021 bigger and better than before?

J: We’re finally outdoors. We’ve been indoors and at convention centers. And it was always our goal to get us outside. COVID helped as a push toward that. We were headed there anyway because I want this to feel like a really fun festival where you don’t even quite notice, “Oh yeah, everything has a holistic approach toward it.”

The Wellness Experience takes place 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 20 and 21 at The Banks. The events themselves are free to attend and guests can get a wristband for food samples by either donating one non-perishable Kroger brand, Simple Truth or Private Selection item or paying $5. RSVP at eventbrite.com.

You can learn more about Jewel and The Wellness Experience and see a full schedule at thewellness-experience.com/schedule

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