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 effort to update facilities at Lifetime Assistance that are used to help people with developmental disabilities is getting a financial boost.

The Golisano Foundation is offering a $750,000  challenge grant, toward Lifetime’s capital campaign.  That means the foundation will match every dollar up to $750,000 contributed by the community.

James Branciforte is President & CEO of Lifetime Assistance. He says as the general population ages, it has also meant that Lifetime has been serving people with more serious disabilities.


Special Olympics New York is preparing for its Winter Games in Rochester February 21-22, 2020. The games officially opened Wednesday, because there's a need for around 1,500 volunteers to help out.

Robyn Armando, Special Olympics New York vice president for marketing and communications, says it’s the third time Rochester will host Special Olympics.

“They're (Rochester) just completely open to embracing us, embracing our community and literally helping to do whatever needs to be done to make the games a success,” she said.

town of pittsford.org

The Town of Pittsford has expanded its ability to provide services to people who are on the autism spectrum.

A proclamation is expected to be adopted to that effect on Tuesday night.

That’s part of an established program that lets a municipality declare itself as being ‘Autism Friendly,’ and Lawana Jones, President and CEO of the Autism Council of Rochester says it includes training personnel in departments that deal with the public a lot.

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

Susan Hoffman

Lisa Hoffman lost her eyes to a rare form of cancer when she was 14 months old. That shaped her life in many ways, and for the better.

"She lived life to the fullest from the day she was born," said Susan Hoffman, Lisa's older sister. "She never let her blindness stop her at all."

It was cancer which ultimately ended Lisa's remarkable life on Monday. She was 54 years old.

James Brown WXXI

Fresh from the campaign trail, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made an appearance in Rochester Friday.   

The New York Democrat held a roundtable discussion at the Center for Disability Rights.

Gillibrand was looking to find out more about issues that are important to people with disabilities. She said conversations with activists when she was on the presidential campaign trail inspired her to take action.

WXXI-TV announced Friday that it will lead a pilot project to expand its Move to Include project to promote inclusion in five new communities across the country.

Funded by a $645,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, this 16-month project will scale up the multimedia initiative, developed by WXXI and the Golisano Foundation, that combines content production, curation, and engagement to encourage dialogue about disability issues. 

A new center for people with autism and their families has opened in Rochester.

The Golisano Autism Center is a “one-stop hub” for services and support for people with autism, said Ann Costello, director of the Golisano Foundation.

We talk about adaptive sports for kids with disabilities. It's in advance of the Little League World Series Challenger Exhibition Game, which will air on WXXI-TV this weekend.

The Challenger division includes children with physical and intellectual disabilities, and we have a Challenger program here in Rochester.

We'll talk to an organizer and a player with the Webster Challenger program, and we'll talk to an organizer and camper at Camp Abilities -- a camp for kids with visual impairments. It's a conversation about inclusion and more. 

Guests are:

  • Ron Kampff, organizer of the Webster Challenger Baseball League
  • Anthony Vignare, member of the Webster Challenger Baseball Team
  • Matthew Farwell, Camp Abilities graduate assistant
  • Chris Smoker, camper at Camp Abilities   

This story was produced by WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, focusing on disabilities and inclusion.


Wegmans is offering families who have young children with mobility restrictions a new way to help their kids shop with their parents or other adult relatives.

It’s a specially adapted shopping cart, called ‘Go to Shop,‘ that Wegmans is getting through a company called Firefly.

Linda Lovejoy is a community relations manager for Wegmans. She said this shopping cart is different from other carts that Wegmans already makes available for kids or adults with disabilities.