People in WNY help ‘Spread the Word’ of inclusion

New York News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Western New Yorkers took part in a global campaign to spread kindness and inclusion on Wednesday.

You may remember the Special Olympics started the ‘Spread the Word to Stop the R Word’ campaign about 10 years ago. This year, that expanded to ‘Spread the Word: Inclusion,’ and hundreds of people in Western New York agreed to be more inclusive. There were tables set up, and performances at ten different cafes, libraries and other spots across three counties throughout the day to help spread the message.

Inside Daily Planet Coffee on Hertel Avenue, the sounds of the espresso machines were drowned out by a beautiful melody Wednesday morning. A group from People Inc. sang nearly a dozen songs showing anyone can create beautiful music.

“We got a lot of inclusive people [in Buffalo],” Avery Gill said. “Sometimes they’re not nice, but there’s always going to be a lot of nice people in the city of Buffalo, no matter what.”

Each song had a deep meaning and showed the crowd that everyone should feel a sense of belonging.

“All I know is, if they’re not nice, I’ll walk away and go to the next one,” Gill said.

Next to the performers, cafe-goers could sign a pledge to spread inclusion. People wrote down different ways to embrace others, like being more patient and kind.

The executive director of the Erie County Office for People with Disabilities, Frank Cammarata, said those sticky notes will be made into an art installation. He’s hoping they’ll form a buffalo with the notes signifying that Buffalo and the surrounding area is inclusive.

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library downtown was another spot where people could make that pledge. That’s where Nick Heilig was greeting people throughout the day.

Heilig has spina bifida and believes we’re moving in the right direction, but there is still a stigma around what people with disabilities can or cannot do. He hoped the Spread the Word campaign inspired people to do simple acts of kindness, which he said can go a long way.

“It’s as simple as having somebody open a door, or say hello, or whatever the case is, to those of us with disabilities or anybody,” Heilig said.

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