Inclusion Desk

Karen DeWitt

People with developmental disabilities and their caretakers held a rally at the State Capitol Wednesday to ask Governor Cuomo for financial help if he’s successful in pushing through a $15 minimum wage.

Providers to people with developmental disabilities say they want their employees to earn more money. Steve Kroll, with  NYSARC,  says many staffers earn less than $15 an hour right now.

“We support giving them pay hikes, because their work is incredibly  important,” said Kroll.

Rally for Direct Care Workers

Mar 11, 2016

Rallies were held Friday to remind lawmakers that while increasing the minimum wage is laudable, there also needs to be more money for state agencies so they can increase the wages of those who work with people with developmental disabilities.

At Pieters Family Life Center, Patrick McGrath, the executive director of Grace Community Center, relayed that message.

He says the front-line workers who serve those with developmental disabilities -- direct support professionals -- should also receive the $15-an-hour wage that's being proposed for minimum wage workers.

Andy Laub/As it Happens Creative

SUNY Geneseo is hosting a presentation Wednesday afternoon on how to be an agent of change in your own life and channel your greatest strengths.

The speaker is Juli Windsor.

Juli knows something about perseverance and resilience. When she was 15, she set a goal of becoming the first runner with dwarfism to complete the Boston Marathon.


Barry Culhane is counting the days until he can finally walk unassisted again.

“I walked into a herniated disc surgery and woke up paralyzed, never expecting that,” says Culhane, who has only gained back some feeling in his legs since then.

Given his positive outlook over the last three years adjusting to life mostly in a wheelchair and decades-long involvement with the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, it comes as no surprise to his peers that Culhane has handled the physical setback so well.


New York State is providing the Child Care Council in Rochester with grant funding to help child care providers better serve children with special needs.

The $68 thousand dollar grant, from New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, will help the Council assist providers as they care for children exhibiting challenging behavior that may affect their placement in a child care program.

Bethany Williams is a special needs services coordinator with the Child Care Council

She says they recognize the importance of continuity of care.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

A national campaign to end use of the words "retard" and "retarded" has mobilized volunteers and organizations in Rochester.

Spread the Word to End the Word was started by a group of young people as a grassroots movement to promote treating people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with dignity.

Groups that serve the disabled say there’s inadequate funding in Governor Cuomo’s budget to place thousands of adults with developmental disabilities into group homes. And they say a proposed $15 minimum wage will have a “devastating financial impact” for the not for profit groups. 

freeimages.com/Anders Wiuff

For people with disabilities, navigating the sidewalks following a big snow storm can be less problematic than trying to operate a wheelchair in just a bit of snow or slush.

That's because the city of Rochester clears sidewalks if four or more inches of snow falls.  It's up to residents to remove snow from sidewalks with less than four inches of snow, and the city this year reminded residents about that policy.

But Stephanie Woodward of the Center for Disability Rights says people with disabilities don't always trust that the rules will be followed.


A non-profit called GiGi's Playhouse wants to create a community center in Rochester for people with Down syndrome.

The group was established by parents of children with Down syndrome in 2003 in Illinois. It has since grown to more than 20 other cities, and accommodates people of all ages and other disabilities.

Chris Tumminelli is the father of a boy with Down syndrome.

"A very happy father, with a beautiful boy named Lannon. He's 8 years old. From the moment he was born I got involved with what I could do to make his life better."


The high temperature on Sunday is expected to be only around 10 degrees with below zero wind chills again.

But the organizer of the annual Polar Plunge on Lake Ontario doesn’t think that will keep people away. In fact, Sam Gerbino  says it seems that the colder it is, the more people that turn out, and this Sunday he’s expecting more than two thousand people to show up at Ontario Beach Park.

He tells WXXI News you don’t even have to jump all the way into the water.