Walsh Hosts First ThinkDIFFERENTLY Day at Saratoga County Fair

Sensory sensitive initiative focused on supporting local special needs community

Today, Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R,C,I,Ref-Ballston) joined Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, as well as representatives from the Saratoga County Fair and local partners, to host the first ever ThinkDIFFERENTLY Day at the Saratoga County Fair. The event, which focused on providing an inclusive and supportive environment for individuals with special needs, provided many who might have a difficult time enjoying the fair under normal circumstances the opportunity to join in the fun of one of the Capitol Region’s most beloved yearly traditions.

In celebration of ThinkDIFFERENTLY Day, the Saratoga County Fair’s midway and carnival rides opened early for a sensory sensitive morning with no flashing lights or loud noises. In addition, the Agriculture and Home Arts, Fine Arts and 4-H Small Animal Exhibits, as well as the cattle barn, 4-H Snack Bar and Brickyard Grill all opened at 9 a.m., offering attendees the chance to enjoy a full morning of fun at the fairgrounds.

Conceptualized in response to a ThinkDIFFERENTLY Community forum held in January, this event marked Walsh and Molinaro’s second collaboration in bringing this worthwhile initiative to Saratoga County. In brief spoken remarks, both elected officials lauded the Saratoga County Fair for its commitment to these efforts, and spoke optimistically of the possibility of similar events in the near future.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to play a role in bringing the ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative here to Saratoga County, and I’d like to commend the Saratoga County Fair for taking the lead in our efforts to support our neighbors living with special needs,” said Walsh. “The success of today’s event is a testament to what is possible when residents of all abilities come together in support of each other, and I look forward to seeing our community continue to benefit from adopting this positive mindset.”

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to our ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ efforts over the past four years, and I appreciate the cities, towns and villages throughout our state which have accepted our challenge to change hearts and minds,” said Molinaro. “Every individual of every ability deserves a community that welcomes them and supports their hopes and dreams. I thank Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh for her interest in our initiative. Today was an exciting day at the Saratoga County Fair and I hope Saratoga County will join our efforts to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY.’”

Launched by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro in 2015, the “Think DIFFERENTLY” initiative seeks to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations and communities relate to residents of all abilities. This year, parts of Saratoga County joined the more than 60 communities around New York state that have adopted “Think DIFFERENTLY” resolutions to promote a supportive environment for residents with special needs.

To learn more about the ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative and how you can get involved, or to discuss any additional state matters, please contact Walsh’s district office at (518) 884-8010.