WXXI AM News

inclusion

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.

The first-ever Festival of Inclusion kicks off on Sunday. The community-based event organized by the Golisano Foundation, Best Buddies, and Special Olympics will promote equality and respect, and include activities accessible to people of all different abilities.

Our guests this hour preview the festival and discuss their ideas for how to create a more inclusive community. Our guests:

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.

Acclaimed Irish tenor and Paralympian Ronan Tynan is coming to Rochester to speak and sing at two events. (Update: These events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.) Tynan was born with phocomelia, a lower limb disability that caused both of his legs to be underdeveloped. At the age of 20, both of Tynan’s legs were amputated after a car accident. Since that time, he has used prosthetic legs and won Paralympic medals in track and field. He’s also a physician specializing in orthopedic sports injuries and has worked in the prosthetics industry.

This hour, Tynan joins us to discuss his life and work, his career with the Irish Tenors, and more. We also talk with locals being recognized for their work promoting inclusion. Our guests:

freeimages.com/Deborah Krusemark

Dyslexia is a language processing disorder that causes difficulty reading or processing spoken words. 

It affects anywhere between 5% and 20% of the population, according to various estimates.

Courtney Hathaway, a school social worker, was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in third grade, but she was placed in reading intervention programs as early as kindergarten. 

Two local organizations are working together to hold what they say is the first local inclusive higher-ed college fair for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The event is organized by GiGi’s Playouse in Rochester and Roberts Wesleyan College. The event Monday evening will include not only Roberts Wesleyan, but also Keuka College, MCC, Nazareth College and the University of Rochester. GiGi's Playhouse is a non-profit organization that serves people with Down syndrome.

A local sixth grader is going viral in our community. At the age of 14 months, Oscar Merulla-Bonn was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. He's been driving a power wheelchair for years. Oscar recently gave a presentation to his school faculty about disability rights. He joins us this hour to share his research and experience, and to discuss how to create more inclusive spaces.

In studio:

  • Oscar Merulla-Bonn, sixth grader at Twelve Corners Middle School
  • Sally Bittner Bonn, Oscar's mother
  • David Merulla, Oscar's father
  • Catherine Liebel, school counselor at Twelve Corners Middle School

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

During the season premiere of the PBS Kids’ show “Arthur,” Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, got married. The episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” featured the wedding of Mr. Ratburn and his partner, Patrick. The show is the latest in a series of children’s television programs and books to highlight diverse characters and inclusive storylines.

This hour, we discuss the value of inclusion on screen and in print – as well as behind the scenes – and the learning goals for children. Our guests:

  • Lesli Rotenberg, chief programming executive and general manager for children’s media and education at PBS
  • Cara Rager, manager of educational training and family engagement at WXXI Education
  • Leslie C. Youngblood, author of “Love Like Sky”
  • Ed Popil (Mrs. Kasha Davis), local drag performer and children's book author