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.

An emerging model called self-direction is enabling people with disabilities to live more independent lives. Self-directed individuals choose where they live, they design their own days and activities, and they have more control over the funding they receive for daily support services.

While the model has produced positive results for people in our community, advocates say not everyone knows about it or understands the process well. We discuss what self-direction means, and we hear from people in our community who are navigating the process. Our guests:

The winner of NPR's 2016 Tiny Desk Concert is a remarkable musician from Duluth, Minnesota named Gaelynn Lea. Lea is a classically trained fiddler whose music includes Celtic and American fiddle traditions. Her submission, Someday We'll Linger in the Sun, was the judges' unanimous choice. If you watch Lea's video, you'll notice that she plays her violin in a style that you might not expect -- she holds it in front of herself, like a cello.

Lea has brittle bone disease, and when she fell in love with the cello as a young student, it was difficult for her to hold it. A teacher noticed, was inspired by Lea's gift for music, and helped her learn how to play the violin in the same style. Now, Lea plays solo shows and with her band. She's also a teacher and an advocate for people with disabilities. 

We talk to Lea about her music, her success, and about how to make all stages accessible to everyone.  She'll be in Rochester for a performance and talk at Nazareth College, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guests:

Empire State Development

Holy Childhood, the non-profit, non-denominational organization  based in Henrietta that helps people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, has officially opened its expanded bakery operation.

It’s called ‘Special Touch Bakery,‘ and the 20,000 foot facility is located on Mount Read Blvd. It provides employment and training for people with disabilities as well as produces pies, which it has been serving in Rochester for decades.

Now, with the help of Palmer Food Services, Holy Childhood has plans to eventually distribute to more than 25 states.

Trick-or-Treat night is right around the corner. What you may not know is that dressing up in scary costumes and venturing from porch to porch to get that handful of sugar isn’t always easy or possible for everyone. For children with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities the centuries-old Halloween traditions are not always accessible and inclusive, but you can learn how they can be. 

On October 19, the Center for Disability Rights hosted a candidate forum on disability issues. WXXI’s Hélène Biandudi Hofer moderated the event last year where one question continued to come up for area politicians: Will you vote to approve ride-hailing even if companies are not required to ensure people of all abilities can access rides? Fast-forward 12 months and now Uber and Lyft are both operating in Rochester. But are they operating for everyone? Biandudi Hofer recently met with Center for Disability Rights Board Member Kenyatta DaCosta to get his take.

It’s a phrase some of you have likely heard more than once: “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While researchers say the precise attribution is questionable, some would say the meaning behind the phrase bears some truth. But for the more than 10 percent of unemployed Americans with a disability - which is nearly double the unemployment rate of those without a disability - finding a job is the ultimate goal.

You’ll meet Justin, a young man who found a job he loves. A local organization believes Justin’s story is one of many that drive home the importance of building inclusive work communities to help understand the diverse strengths of all abilities.

RIT

Philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano was honored Friday at RIT for his contributions to global health, specifically through Special Olympics.

Golisano’s effort to improve the health of people with intellectual disabilities is being celebrated with a special exhibit in the atrium of the College of Computing and Information Sciences that bears his name.

Golisano donated $37 million to start what is called ‘Healthy Communities ‘ five years ago, which helps screen Special Olympics athletes for a range of health issues.

Individuals with autism can be at risk when law enforcement and first responders do not know how to react to them during an incident. But a recent training seminar hosted by Arc of Seneca Cayuga in Auburn was meant to bring more awareness of the autism community to first responders.

Some people call it the “daily grind,” but on this edition of Need to Know you’ll meet others who describe it as a “daily dream.” We discuss power of employment for individuals with disabilities and why this month federal and local agencies are on calling on more companies to diversify their workforce.

Also on the show, ride-hailing companies now operating in upstate New York are intended to make getting from point A to point B easier. But do their services work for everyone?

And with Halloween right around the corner we look into what it takes to make the holiday’s festivities accessible and inclusive for all kids in our community. 

Tianna Manon/WXXI News

Philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano announced on Thursday that he is pledging $5 million to support construction of a new pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Center at the University of Rochester.

Golisano, whose support also resulted in the Golisano Children’s Hospital being named after him, says the new pediatric facility will address gaps in care and accommodate more clinical staff to help reduce the number of children who are on a waiting list for services.

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