ThinkDifferently initiative asks communities for ideas on how to be more inclusive

Dec 6, 2017

Credit dutchessny.gov

ThinkDifferently is an initiative started by Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro to change the way individuals, businesses and organizations relate to people of all abilities in their community.

Molinaro was in Rochester Wednesday, meeting with Senator Rich Funke, as well as a number of community organizers to talk about ways to be more inclusive to people with disabilities.

Funke said we have great awareness here, but can always do more.

"Are there things that we could do better at our museums, are there things that we could do better at our parks, are there things that we could do better at the zoo or things of that nature to better include?"

Funke was active in bringing the project to Rochester.

Molinaro said he was inspired to start the campaign as the father of three children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum.

But he says the initiative isn’t for his daughter, it’s for the rest of us.

"Who have to confront this silent prejudice of low expectations. Or the feeling that some may have that people can’t accomplish certain things, and that we as a community have to see the humanity in everyone. And what ThinkDifferently really is, is a call to action."

Molinaro has been visiting communities across the state, meeting with residents and lawmakers to generate ideas on how each place can make changes to increase inclusivity.

"From small steps like a movie theater opening up its doors - the lights stay up, the sound goes down for those who have sensory issues. Or maybe it’s a shopping mall that has a shopping mall Santa who’s dedicated a particular period of time or hours for those with developmental disabilities."

80 communities across the state have embraced the initiative.

Molinaro says by talking about these challenges, it creates opportunity and understanding.  Molinaro is also said to be considering a possible run for the GOP nomination for NY Governor next year.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.