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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.

SASHA-ANN SIMONS/WXXI NEWS

Barry Culhane is counting the days until he can finally walk unassisted again.

“I walked into a herniated disc surgery and woke up paralyzed, never expecting that,” says Culhane, who has only gained back some feeling in his legs since then.

Given his positive outlook over the last three years adjusting to life mostly in a wheelchair and decades-long involvement with the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, it comes as no surprise to his peers that Culhane has handled the physical setback so well.

childcarecouncil.com

New York State is providing the Child Care Council in Rochester with grant funding to help child care providers better serve children with special needs.

The $68 thousand dollar grant, from New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, will help the Council assist providers as they care for children exhibiting challenging behavior that may affect their placement in a child care program.

Bethany Williams is a special needs services coordinator with the Child Care Council

She says they recognize the importance of continuity of care.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

A national campaign to end use of the words "retard" and "retarded" has mobilized volunteers and organizations in Rochester.

Spread the Word to End the Word was started by a group of young people as a grassroots movement to promote treating people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with dignity.

Groups that serve the disabled say there’s inadequate funding in Governor Cuomo’s budget to place thousands of adults with developmental disabilities into group homes. And they say a proposed $15 minimum wage will have a “devastating financial impact” for the not for profit groups. 

freeimages.com/Anders Wiuff

For people with disabilities, navigating the sidewalks following a big snow storm can be less problematic than trying to operate a wheelchair in just a bit of snow or slush.

That's because the city of Rochester clears sidewalks if four or more inches of snow falls.  It's up to residents to remove snow from sidewalks with less than four inches of snow, and the city this year reminded residents about that policy.

But Stephanie Woodward of the Center for Disability Rights says people with disabilities don't always trust that the rules will be followed.

gigisplayhouse.org

A non-profit called GiGi's Playhouse wants to create a community center in Rochester for people with Down syndrome.

The group was established by parents of children with Down syndrome in 2003 in Illinois. It has since grown to more than 20 other cities, and accommodates people of all ages and other disabilities.

Chris Tumminelli is the father of a boy with Down syndrome.

"A very happy father, with a beautiful boy named Lannon. He's 8 years old. From the moment he was born I got involved with what I could do to make his life better."

polarplunge.net

The high temperature on Sunday is expected to be only around 10 degrees with below zero wind chills again.

But the organizer of the annual Polar Plunge on Lake Ontario doesn’t think that will keep people away. In fact, Sam Gerbino  says it seems that the colder it is, the more people that turn out, and this Sunday he’s expecting more than two thousand people to show up at Ontario Beach Park.

He tells WXXI News you don’t even have to jump all the way into the water. 

J-Mac, Ten Years On

Feb 11, 2016
Alex Crichton

A celebration was held Thursday to mark one of sports amazing feats: Jason McElwain's 20 point performance in the waning moments of a game against Spencerport.

McElwain, a teenager with autism, was the team's manager, and coach Jim Johnson decided to give him an opportunity late in the game.

Johnson says J-Mac's performance gave inspiration and hope to a lot of people.

Thursday, J-Mac teamed up with his former coach again and the AutismUp organization for a fundraising luncheon.

The keynote speaker was Roy Firestone, formerly of ESPN and a public speaker.

The barriers are immense when it comes to individuals with disabilities seeking employment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17% of people with a disability were employed in 2014. That’s compared to nearly 65% of individuals without a disability. One of those barriers to the labor force is a lack of certain educational skills. Tied to that, for some, is a lack of literacy training. But a Monroe County book club connected to a national book club movement, is not only tearing down some of these barriers, but also breaking stereotypes and building a sense of community for adults with developmental disabilities.

harveyandellenweisenberg.com

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An ex-lawmaker has established a foundation building a software application for families and caregivers with information about rights and resources for developmentally disabled New Yorkers.

Retired Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, whose disabled son Ricky lives in a state-supported residence, says he still hears from people seeking information.

The nonprofit Harvey and Ellen Weisenberg Special Needs Resource Corp. is accepting tax-deductible donations to build it.

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