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.

Nazareth College

Nazareth College is getting a gift of $100,000 from the Golisano Foundation to support the construction of the new Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute at Nazareth.

Golisano Foundation Director Ann Costello said that the foundation cannot fulfill its mission to improve care and supportive services for people with intellectual disabilities unless they have organizations that can partner with them to impact change.


State lawmakers are considering legislation that would change the traditional picture on "handicapped accessible" signs and remove the word "handicapped."

The new symbol shows a person in a wheelchair in forward motion.

Nancy Steinkamp, director of physical rehabilitation for Rochester Rehabilitation, an Al Sigl agency, says the change is a good idea, as long as people get the message the sign is trying to send. “That people who have disabilities are very active and involved and want to be portrayed as such. In many settings, they are beginning to be portrayed as such."

Special Olympics, the Golisano Foundation and dentists from The Eastman Institute for Oral Health are teaming up on Saturday to help people with intellectual disabilities. It's only the second time in the nation that a program like this has been done.

It's called "A Day for Special Smiles" and more than 20 Special Olympics athletes will get dental treatment, free of charge. It will take place at an Eastman Dental facility in the Sibley building in Rochester on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Damage to the brain and the nervous system, headaches, hearing loss and other illnesses can all be caused by lead poisoning. On this edition of Need to Know Rochester we look at new stats in the Greater Rochester community on this preventable disease. Also on the show – from a body bag to a stage sharing his story around the country. We’ll learn about local man Fantastic Frank Johnson’s journey to turn disability into ability and his hope of inspiring millions in the process. And NPR’s Michele Norris makes a stop in Rochester to give us a peek into America’s views about race through her Race Card Project.

Former Rochester Councilwoman Ruth Scott  talks about her memoir; 

In the second half-hour, AutisumUp is here to talk about new, higher autism prevalence rates. They preview their annual gala, and talk about new approaches.

Guests include:  Sarah Milko and Jennae Moran of AutisumUp, and Lynn Cole of the Kirch Center at Strong.  

The employment rate for people with disabilities is 20%. That's it. But for those who are part of Project SEARCH, it's 87%. How does it work? Who is benefiting? We'll meet some success stories and learn how local businesses can get involved. 

Guests include: 

·         Julie Christensen, director of employment programs at the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester Medical Center

·         Gabrielle Brandenberg, employment specialist (job coach) from Arc of Monroe

·         Sam Kastner, a Project SEARCH student who is seeking employment

·         Ernestine Garries, a former Project SEARCH student in the same class as Sam but who was snapped up by URMC’s Environmental Services department before graduating

·         Linda Schmitt, nurse manager for the 6-3400 at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital, with whom Sam is currently an intern.

A number of local organizations are trying to change the way that people with intellectual and physical disabilities are perceived. Officials with these groups realize there are some longstanding assumptions that have to be challenged.

WXXI and the Golisano Foundation are joining forces to launch MOVE TO INCLUDE (@MovetoInclude), an initiative designed to promote inclusion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Through programming and special events, the partners 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.

"MOVE TO INCLUDE will help people better understand what it means to be someone who lives with an intellectual or other disability," said Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation, which will provide $280,000 to WXXI for the initiative over the next two years.  The Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

"We want to build a community that leads the way in valuing abilities and fostering inclusion," said Costello. "We want to move beyond discussion and into action, encouraging people and showing people how they can put their good intentions to work, and lead the charge to leave no one out in our community. By working with WXXI we look forward to reaching out to people through TV, radio, films and online, building the momentum for this movement throughout the year."

The initiative kicks off Monday, April 14th at 7 p.m. with a free screening of Ken Burns' new documentary The Address at the Little Theatre. The film tells the story of Greenwood School, where each year the students are encouraged to memorize, practice, and recite the Gettysburg Address. The students, boys ages 11-17, all face a range of complex learning differences that make their personal, academic, and social progress challenging. The Address will also air on WXXI-TV Tuesday, April 15 at 9 p.m.

"WXXI and the Golisano Foundation hope these films, television programs and news stories will motivate individuals to take action and to include more people with disabilities in the workplace, in schools, neighborhoods and in all aspects of society," said Norm Silverstein, WXXI President. "People with disabilities have many extraordinary talents and, given the chance, can make important contributions to the quality of life in our community," he added. 

WXXI's programming about "the abilities of people with disabilities" began more than a decade ago, through a partnership with the Al Sigl Community of Agencies  called "Dialogue On Disability." The project Dialogue on Disability  was a week-long initiative designed to encourage community dialogue about the lives and abilities of people with physical and intellectual disabilities. It  will continue to take place in January each year as part of the year-long MOVE TO INCLUDE initiative.

In addition to primetime programming, WXXI-TV will present children's programs that spotlight kids with disabilities. April programming includes an episode of Arthur, airing Sunday, April 27 at 9 a.m., which deals with a newly made friend who has Asperger's Syndrome. A complete list of programs can be found at WXXI.org/include. The web page is updated monthly with upcoming programs.

You can also follow MOVE TO INCLUDE and see how you can get involved on Twitter (@movetoinclude) and Facebook.com /movetoinclude.


  New grant funding will go to provide bikes for Rochesterians with physical and developmental disabilities. 

R Community Bikes has given away 20-thousand bikes to area residents in need over the past 10 years.

Now, a $5,000 grant from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will help them modify bikes to help people with disabilities.

Dan Lill, director of R Community Bikes, explains the modifications will provide more balance and stability.


A national speaker who has spent his career trying to create a "cultural shift" spoke at a seminar in Batavia today.

Al Condeluci is the CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh. He says his cousin, Carrie, first inspired his wish to transform people's thinking about how to include citizens with disabilities so they are not just out in the community but part of the community.

You can hear our interview with Condeluci by clicking on the audio link above.