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First Festival of Inclusion planned for March 1

The Golisano Training Center at Nazareth College of Rochester will host the inaugural Festival of Inclusion, an event sponsored by the Golisano Foundation, Special Olympics New York and Best Buddies International.

festival-of-inclusion-resizedThe March 1 event will feature free fun and games to kick off the annual Spread the Word Inclusion campaign.

“We are proud to build on our annual Spread the Word Inclusion campaign, making an even bigger impact to stop all types of discrimination against people including those with intellectual disabilities,” said Golisano Foundation Executive Director Ann Costello in a statement. “This new Festival of Inclusion will celebrate the impressive shifts we have made over the last decade and promote what still needs to be done.”

Costello said the agency is asking organizations to get involved and for people to take the pledge to show how they will be more inclusive in their schools, workplaces and community.

“Working together we can inspire acceptance and advocate for respectful words and actions in all aspects of our lives,” Costello said.

The festival will feature sports activities including an “East vs. West” unified basketball tournament, pickleball, cheerleading and tennis; music and dance; a photo booth; community inclusion stations featuring interactive and creative activities and demonstrations; a pep rally; food trucks; and more.

“I live my life each day to make an impact in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by promoting the power of friendship,” said David Quilleon, Best Buddies senior vice president and Festival of Inclusion emcee. “Inclusion is important in this idea as it cultivates friendship and diversity while creating a more empathetic and welcoming culture. Inclusion unites the authenticity of all of us.”

Best Buddies is a nonprofit dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Special Olympics New York athletes and Unified partners have emerged as the leaders of a global movement to inclusion, one that is supported by community events such as the Festival of Inclusion and the annual Spread the Word campaign,” said Stacey Hengsterman, Special Olympics New York president and CEO. “We are proud to partner with the Golisano Foundation and Best Buddies once again to share the Special Olympics message of inclusion and continue our work to make New York the most inclusive state in the country.”

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