Individuals with disabilities need friendships outside of family circle

Aug 17, 2017

Relationships are one of the keys to a richer life for people with disabilities.

That was the main message from an international speaker who visited Rochester today. 

Al Condeluci has traveled the world with this message; it's something that became clear to him years ago as he observed his cousin Carrie, who had Down syndrome.

Carrie was a natural part of Condeluci's family, but she was not connected to her community at large. What she needed, he said, was more social capital.

"Just like human capital or financial capital, social capital really suggests that we benefit greatly from the people we know and the people we connect with in our lives."

One thing anyone can do, Condeluci said, is look for the similarities in those who appear to be different, and try to connect with them based on what you have in common.

"We're all more similar than we are different,” he said. “We all have things that we care about and share that really blends us and connects us with each other."

Condeluci, who spoke at an event this morning hosted by the local advocacy group Starbridge, says it's not only the person with the disability who benefits from the connection. The person without disabilities grows from the experience, too.

This story is reported from WXXI's Inclusion Desk