WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

Parents of hundreds of children with special needs in New York State say their kids are not receiving the services they need. A recent report in the Democrat & Chronicle stated that in the 2016-2017 school year "nearly 400 3- and 4-year-olds in Monroe County were not evaluated for developmental delays within 60 days of their referral as required by law, according to local school district records.” The delay in referrals puts children at a developmental disadvantage, and at risk for needing costlier services in the future.

Local providers say the state’s reimbursement process is to blame: providers receive tardy and inadequate funding. Democrat & Chronicle reporter Justin Murphy explored this issue. He joins us in studio, and we’ll hear from local parents about the challenges they face. Our guests:

  • Justin Murphy, education reporter at the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Sharon Peck, parent
  • Pat Graff, director of special education at Rochester Childfirst Network
  • Cathy Rasmussen, director of York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute, and associate dean of compliance and clinical affairs at the School of Health and Human Services at Nazareth College
  • Robin Hooper, early education director for the Rochester City School District

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include, a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

Rosalie Winard

A woman who helped shine the light on the unique abilities of an autistic mind will be inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls next week.

Temple Grandin, an author, speaker, and champion of farm animal welfare said the honor means a lot to her.

"Because when I first started in the seventies,” she said, “being a woman in a man's industry - the cattle industry - that was hard and I had to prove that I could do it. I was really motivated to make sure that my stuff was really good and that I wasn't stupid." 

When a member of your family is in a wheelchair you may not think taking off on a kayaking adventure together on the Erie Canal is possible. However, it is. On this Need to Know segment we join in on the experience with an area mother and son sharing this special moment together for the first time through Rochester Accessible Adventures. We also learn about the work being done by RAA in an effort to revolutionize inclusion when it comes to eliminating barriers to active lifestyles for individuals with disabilities and their families. 

A living wage. That’s what a coalition of advocates and community agencies that support individuals with disabilities have been calling for in our state. The focus of that fight - the more than 120,000 New Yorkers who work with and care for individuals with disabilities. They’re called Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and according to the New York State Chapter of the Arc they’re in chronic short supply While the governor allocated $55 million in the budget this year to support a wage increase for these professionals working with nonprofits - is that enough to recruit, train and sustain employees? We examine the current state of DSPs and the challenges they’re continuing to face on this Move to Include edition of Need to Know.

A hard-fought wage increase battle saw some success this year. But workers who help those living with disabilities say they are still in need of support. On this edition of Need to Know we’ll discuss what a profession that some call underpaid and undervalued is looking for in an effort to help our most vulnerable and those trained to care for them.

Also on the show, a revolution in inclusion. We’re checking out a local group on a mission to get businesses and organizations equipped to offer recreational activities to people of all abilities.

Alex Lehmann

A group billing itself as the first comedy troupe consisting of people with Asperger's syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism - is performing in Rochester tonight.

"Asperger's Are Us" is playing at Photo City Improv at 8 p.m.  

The four members of the troupe, Ethan Finlan, New Michael Ingemi, Jack Hanke, and Noah Britton started doing their quirky comedy sketches in small venues around Boston.

They've since appeared in a Netflix documentary and have been touring throughout North America and Europe this summer.

Librarians at the Irondequoit Public Library say they are in a unique position to help create a more inclusive community, and promoting diversity and understanding can start at a young age. That's why they've created the United Stories of America program. It's a pre-school storytime series with a social justice theme. Presenters include a female illusionist talking about gender identity, a disability rights activist, and more.

We talk about the program and hear stories from two of its presenters. In studio:

  • Matt Krueger, teen services librarian at the Irondequoit Public Library
  • Amy Holland, children’s librarian at the Irondequoit Public Library
  • Ed Popil ("Mrs. Kasha Davis"), local drag performer and performer from RuPaul's Drag Race, Season 7
  • Ericka Jones, systems advocate at the Center for Disability Rights

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The weather was perfect for a ball game as Challenger Miracle Field in Webster celebrated it’s grand opening Saturday morning.

The inclusive multi-use field is specifically designed for individuals with physical and/or cognitive challenges. The cushioned, turf field has wheel chair accessible dugouts and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers.

Barriers which Wendy McCarthy's son Liam had trouble with at other fields.

Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester

A dream that has been years in the making will become a reality Saturday for hundreds of local children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities as the ribbon is cut on the Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester.

The Webster athletic and multi-use facility has wheelchair accessible dugouts and a rubberized field surface to prevent injuries. 

We learn about two local organizations that provide recreational activities for people with disabilities: the Challenger Miracle Field and EquiCenter. Our guests share their experiences and the impact these organizations have had on our community. In studio:

  • Ron Kampff, president of Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester, and coach for the Webster Challenger Team and the Rochester BEEP Baseball Team (Rochester Pioneers)
  • Nico Santiago, Challenger player
  • Karen Werth, operations and therapeutic riding instructor for EquiCenter
  • Barbara Stickney, veteran and participant at EquiCenter

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include, a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

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