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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.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

New York Senator Chuck Schumer made a stop at the Mary Cariola Children's Center on Wednesday to push for legislation that would provide wearable tracking devices to families that need them for children, or adults who might wander away due to a disability.

The New York Democrat says that Monroe County is among one-third of counties in New York State who don't have such program right now.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

A Rochester tradition continues this year at Holy Childhood and their new Special Touch Bakery.

Over 2,400 pies are being baked for the Thanksgiving holiday at Special Touch this week. The facility’s primary mission is to provide training and employment for people in our community with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

With pies stacked taller than my head, Director of Bakery Operations Joe Perdicho showed me around the bakery floor, which has been open for about a month now. He says there has been a lot of positive energy coming from the community.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI News

Going to college can be a key experience in a young person's life, leading to friendships, personal growth, a degree — and, of course, future employment.

The number of college-based programs for students with intellectual disabilities is growing across the country, and they often provide many of those benefits — except for a traditional degree. In the second episode of Exited, meet three young people as they leave college experiences for the real world.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI News

In the first episode of Exited, explore an early factor in transition – graduation tracks – through the experience of 17-year-old Nate, a student who doesn’t quite fit on any one track.

High school plays a huge part in determining what happens next in a young person's life. And for students like Nate, it can get even more complicated.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

  

The benefits of music on individuals with autism are widely known. Improved focus, advances in speech and language, and better motor skills. But sometimes it’s about the growth that you can’t quantify in numbers.

On a Tuesday night in a sleepy plaza in Penfield, the Music Education Center is buzzing. Kids are in the waiting room, parents are catching up and students are practicing anything from trombone to piano.

Noah Svokos is a curly haired 13 year old who has been taking piano lessons for 5 years at the center.

Leaving the world of adolescence and entering the adult world — the real world — can be a confusing time for anyone.

But for young people with disabilities, it can feel like arriving at a cliff as they leave behind the cocoon of school and sometimes struggle to find a place where they belong.

Exited, launching Nov. 13, is a podcast that will bring you the stories of eight young people, ranging in age from 17 to 26, as they navigate transitions in various settings – high school, higher education, sheltered workshops, day programs and home life. 

NPR.org

NPR's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest Winner Gaelynn Lea is in Rochester this weekend for a performance at Nazareth College Saturday.

She never thought she would be a performer full time. Which is a funny thought to come from someone who in the last year had 200 shows in 39 states and 6 different countries.

Born with Brittle Bone Disease, Lea is a violin player but also uses the platform she’s been given to talk about disability rights.

An emerging model called self-direction is enabling people with disabilities to live more independent lives. Self-directed individuals choose where they live, they design their own days and activities, and they have more control over the funding they receive for daily support services.

While the model has produced positive results for people in our community, advocates say not everyone knows about it or understands the process well. We discuss what self-direction means, and we hear from people in our community who are navigating the process. Our guests:

The winner of NPR's 2016 Tiny Desk Concert is a remarkable musician from Duluth, Minnesota named Gaelynn Lea. Lea is a classically trained fiddler whose music includes Celtic and American fiddle traditions. Her submission, Someday We'll Linger in the Sun, was the judges' unanimous choice. If you watch Lea's video, you'll notice that she plays her violin in a style that you might not expect -- she holds it in front of herself, like a cello.

Lea has brittle bone disease, and when she fell in love with the cello as a young student, it was difficult for her to hold it. A teacher noticed, was inspired by Lea's gift for music, and helped her learn how to play the violin in the same style. Now, Lea plays solo shows and with her band. She's also a teacher and an advocate for people with disabilities. 

We talk to Lea about her music, her success, and about how to make all stages accessible to everyone.  She'll be in Rochester for a performance and talk at Nazareth College, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guests:

Empire State Development

Holy Childhood, the non-profit, non-denominational organization  based in Henrietta that helps people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, has officially opened its expanded bakery operation.

It’s called ‘Special Touch Bakery,‘ and the 20,000 foot facility is located on Mount Read Blvd. It provides employment and training for people with disabilities as well as produces pies, which it has been serving in Rochester for decades.

Now, with the help of Palmer Food Services, Holy Childhood has plans to eventually distribute to more than 25 states.

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