Inclusion Desk

Adaptive Play at The Strong Museum

Oct 21, 2019
The Strong - Museum of Play/Facebook

The non-profit group Endless Highway teamed up with The Strong National Museum of Play for its first Adaptive Day of Play for youth and families living with physical disabilities on Sunday.

The idea is to create more inclusive family experiences, and more than 90 people participated.

Endless Highway founder Bob Tortorella says that The Strong has always been a place of inclusivity for families with children with disabilities.

Max Schulte/WXXI News

The two gold medals wrapped around the neck of Amanda Vito are bouncing and clinking as she walks around the massive track at the new, 108,000-square-foot Golisano Training Center at Nazareth College.

Vito looks up at the big electronic scoreboard, and then turns her attention to a far corner of the track.

"Wow!" she said with a smile. "That's where the pole vault is."   

Amanda is a multi-sport athlete who competes in track, bowling, soccer, basketball, bocce, and swimming. But track and field is her passion.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

The Eastman Institute for Oral Health at the University of Rochester has opened a new clinic designed to serve people with disabilities and complex health issues. 

Wayne Lipschitz, who recently started a new job as the clinic’s director, said typical dentists’ offices are not designed for people with disabilities, and dentists themselves often are not trained to treat them.

That results in people staying away from the dentist and postponing or avoiding an important part of their health care, Lipschitz said.

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.

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.