First Festival of Inclusion kicks off Spread the Word campaign

Mar 1, 2020

Credit April Franklin

Over the weekend, The Golisano Foundation, Special Olympics, and Best Buddies hosted the first-ever Festival of Inclusion at Nazareth College.

Hundreds of families attended the event to kick off this year's regional Spread the Word Inclusion campaign.

Spread the Word is a national campaign that encourages people in the community to pledge their support of inclusion and to promote acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Lindsay Jewett, regional director of Best Buddies International, said that the event brings families and organizations in the community together. 

“Rochester is an amazing place for inclusion," Jewett said. "There are so many services that are available, but our families usually are kind of pigeonholed into one or two organizations that they really work with, when they have the ability to work with 50 to 60 if they wanted to. So our vision, our goal was that ... why can’t we just have an event where everyone can meet everybody?"

Ann Costello. executive director of the Golisano Foundation, said that effort toward spreading inclusion in Rochester began nine years ago.

“We started participating in End the R-word campaign in 2011, and now it’s grown from, 'Don’t say that awful word' to 'Let’s all get together to be inclusive' and to tell everybody how we’re going to be inclusive,” Costello said.

Attending families were able to enjoy games and activities at community inclusion stations provided by over 40 participating  local organizations.

The official Spread the Word Inclusion campaign begins on Wednesday.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.