By Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive

We have asked residents, businesses and now communities to #ThinkDIFFERENTLY and the response has been overwhelming. Municipalities across New York are embracing our call to action and are moving forward to make their community more supportive and accepting of all our neighbors of all abilities.

Just days after asking communities to consider adopting #ThinkDIFFERENTLY resolutions, I was thrilled to see municipalities from Dutchess County, the Capital District, Central New York and the lower Hudson Valley pass them and begin to expand a sense of inclusiveness to all residents, regardless of ability. I’m confident in the coming weeks, more communities will adopt similar legislation to show to the rest of the country that in New York, we #ThinkDIFFERENTLY.

One of those communities is Troy, where I’m happy to be speaking at on August 31st as they launch their local effort.

Here at home, The Dutchess County Fair is offering special needs families early entry to the fairgrounds on Thursday, August 25th starting at 9am. For some families certain of aspects of the fair including the crowds, the lights and the sounds, can cause sensory chaos and mar their experienced — while others may not attend all. Making some small changes can have a big impact for a special needs families and I am grateful to Andy Imperati, the Agricultural Society and the Dutchess County Fairgrounds team for taking on our challenge to think differently.

Please read this great post by Kerry Magro, a motivational speaker and best-selling author who’s on the autism spectrum, “A letter I would have written for my parents when I was nonverbal.”

And something I discussed on the podcast, Zac Brown is someone who knows how to #ThinkDIFFERENTLY. This video shows his plans and motivation for Camp Southern Ground.

#ThinkDIFFERENTLY is about changing the way many of us think about and relate to residents with special needs and finding the innate potential inside us all. It’s a philosophy I’m happy to see spread throughout New York, and I encourage other communities to consider our initiative for adoption. Every individual of every ability deserves support, acceptance and respect and we start by asking all of us to #Think DIFFERENTLY.’