Inclusion Desk


A Rochester doctor received the first Golisano Health Leadership Award on Thursday, for his decades-long career helping medically underserved communities.

Dr. Steve Sulkes, a professor of pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital, works with children with developmental and behavioral challenges. Sulkes has also focused extensively on increasing access to healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Unified Sports program is growing in Western New York, but many of us are not familiar with the initiative.

Our guests explain how "unified" means inclusion, and how the program is impacting hundreds of students locally. You can watch a video of the program in action at Gates Chili High School and Spencerport High School. Our guests:

  • Billy Harmon, senior at Gates Chili High School, and student athlete with Unified basketball
  • Michael Saporito, tenth grader at Gates Chili High School, and student athlete with Unified basketball
  • Kimberle Ward, superintendent of Gates Chili Central School District
  • Tray Burton, Unified basketball coach at Edison Career and Technology High School in the Rochester City School District
  • Mike Murray, athletic director for Churchville-Chili Central School District
  • Dennis Fries, past president and current liaison to Unified basketball with Section V

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed legislation to require a state study of the high vacancy and turnover rates among caregivers for developmentally disabled New Yorkers and what's needed to fix them.

Nonprofits that care for thousands of disabled people say their chronic understaffing is reaching a crisis, with nearly 10 percent job vacancies last year, nearly 25 percent staff turnover and remaining staff forced to work frequent unscheduled overtime.


The website WalletHub is out with a survey on the best and worst cities in the U.S. for people with disabilities and Rochester doesn't fare very well. The city was listed as the 4th worst among 150 cities, and an analyst for Wallet Hub Jill Gonzalez says that is partly due to a lack of jobs for people with disabilities.


Nazareth College announced today it has received the largest single gift in the school's history, $7.5 million from philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano.

It will go toward the construction of a new athletic training facility that school officials say will bring together the strengths of the college, Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation.

Nazareth College President Daan Braveman says the Golisano Training Center will serve three purposes: it will provide an indoor track, fields, fitness areas, and training facilities.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's agency responsible for protecting the state's disabled told county prosecutors last fall that it would begin sending referrals of abuse cases to them, a move that came more than two years after it was created to fill a chronic gap in enforcement.

The Justice Center, whose suburban Albany office receives thousands of reports of alleged abuse and neglect, has its own prosecutors who have jurisdiction along with the counties' 62 district attorneys.

Special Olympics is launching a worldwide award program called the Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards. The idea is to recognize the work of individuals and organizations who are improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities.

Ann Costello is executive director of the Golisano Foundation.  She says it's important to recognize health professionals and other people who are helping serve what is an underserved population.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

Among the many activities going on in this area Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of 9/11 was a motorcycle ride sponsored by the Laddermen Firefighter Motorcycle Club.

The Laddermen's club is a collection of current and retired Rochester firefighters, and they work every 9/11 anniversary to raise money for a local charity; this year, it was for Miracle Field in Webster, an athletic field being developed for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities has launched a multimedia campaign to encourage people to welcome individuals of all abilities.

Visitors to the agency's display in the Science and Industry Building at the State Fair near Syracuse will get a seed packet -- symbolism for planting the seeds of community inclusion.  They'll also be asked to write a welcoming message on a postcard that will be shared on social media.


A new type of baseball field broke ground Saturday afternoon in Webster.

Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester will be a multi-use field, specifically designed for individuals with physical or cognitive challenges. Amenities will include cushioned, rubber surfaces in the field, wheelchair accessible dugouts, and completely flat surfaces to eliminate any barriers in participation.

Ron Kampff, President of the Board of Directors for Challenger Baseball has been involved with the organization since 2001, and said it was about time they did something for their players.