WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

The Inclusion Desk is a multi-platform reporting effort by WXXI News to inform and transform attitudes and behavior about inclusion. The Inclusion Desk grew from the Move to Include partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation. Through programming and special events, WXXI and the Golisano Foundation look to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.

John Robinson and Doug Hamlin are in the midst of what has become an annual endeavor. Partners in the firm Our Ability, they are undertaking their "Journey Along the Erie Canal." For John and Doug, who have little or no use of their legs, the 12-day, 350-mile ride is an "opportunity" to display how people with disabilities can adapt to any circumstance.


Pittsford Schools

A new Inclusivity Advisory Committee is coming to the Pittsford Central School District.

Superintendent Michael Pero says they received around 70 applications for the all-volunteer committee.

"What a better way to approach it than have a group of caring people come together that have expertise in certain areas, and help guide us with recommendations relative to bringing that diverse population together."

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon brought her campaign to Rochester on Sunday, specifically to focus on the needs of the disability community.

Nixon met with a variety of  supporters, including those active in the disability community locally during her campaign stop at Ontario Beach Park.

The actress and activist who is hoping to face Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in a September primary keyed in on several points important to those with disabilities, including low wages for home health care aides.

Lifetime Assistance

Lifetime Assistance's annual fundraiser brought people out to the airport runway in Rochester on Saturday.

The Airport Games are the largest fundraiser for the organization that helped adults and children with developmental disabilities.

Jamie Rada is the Director of Development at the nonprofit.

"Lifetime Assistance I think is more than just a part of the community; the community has become a part of us, and really embrace Lifetime and what we stand for."

The Reel Mind Theatre and Film Series is underway. It features films and performances that address the stigma attached to mental illness and behavior disorders, while providing messages of hope.

One of the films in this year's lineup is the documentary, Deej; it tells the story of David James Savarese, a non-speaking young man with autism. Savarese joins us in studio to share his remarkable journey and the challenges he has overcome. Plus, we get a look at what's next in the series. Our guests: 

  • Dr. Larry Guttmacher, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and co-director of the Reel Mind Film series
  • David James Savarese, poet, co-producer of Deej, and advocate for people with autism 
  • Dr. Lori Jeanne Peloquin, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Lynne Fisher, education program administrator for NAMI-Rochester

Marsha King

Familiar sounds and movements can make difficult tasks seem easier because they are comforting. Through those associations, music can connect the mind to the soul.

Take Jason King, for example. “Jason has always been a handful,” said Marsha King about her 16-year-old son. “He was diagnosed with bipolar/ADHD when he was about 9.”

Jason has a 134 IQ and is as mature as a 10-12 year old. When Jason was 15, he was stabilized with medication and diagnosed with high functioning autism.

“One of the biggest issues he experiences is the ability to be flexible and follow direction to do things when he should,” his mother said.

However, Jason moves to the beat of Artists Unlimited. There, Jason can express himself because it gives him the opportunity to perform on stage, just like he does at home.

Andrea Francis

A 24-hour helpline for Rochester-area families with children on the autism spectrum will be place by July 1. It's one of the responses advocates say is needed after the death of Trevyan Rowe.

The 14-year-old, whose family said he had autism, died in the Genesee River after walking away from School 12 in March.

“As the parent of children with autism, that story really hit home hard,” said Andrea Francis of Farmington. “I think the community is still shaken up over it.”

arcmonroe.org

The Arc of Monroe County is accepting applications for its Adult Project SEARCH program, which prepares adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for employment.

Kayt Davidson is director of transition services with Job Path at the Arc of Monroe.

She says the program focuses on employment readiness.

Provided

Editor's note: Parents are outraged at the apparent mismanagement of special education in the Rochester City School District. In the second of two stories about the district's special education program, the recent budget proposal aims to address some of parents' concerns, but some worry it doesn't go far enough.

In a lot of ways, this year’s school budget is like any other year. Almost $1 billion spread out across 53 schools and almost 30,000 kids. Positions added, positions cut, a deficit that needs balancing.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Editor's note: The tragic death of a Rochester School District special education student who wandered away from his school unnoticed stunned and outraged the community. In the first of two stories about the district's special education program, parents of students with disabilities are calling for changes.

The Rev. Marilyn Cunningham is pastor of Graves Memorial CME Church in Rochester. She’s also a mother and grandmother.

Pages