Last week I had the honor of working with Special Olympics Global and representatives from all 50 states During Capital Hill Day 2018. Capital Hill Day gave each state the opportunity to sit down face to face with government officials and discuss the advancement and need to preserve support for programs created to provide equal opportunity to those with Intellectual Disabilities.
Special Olympics strongly supports legislation that guarantees the rights, full participation, and integration of people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Special Olympics recognizes the progress that the United States as a whole has made in eliminating the stigma, stereotypes, isolation, and discrimination that people with intellectual disabilities face – most importantly around access to sport, health, and education. We ask the United States Government to join Special Olympics in remaining vigilant against any erosion of provisions that have made a substantial difference in the lives of people with ID.
Lessons learned through Healthy Communities can be applied in other areas on innovative collaborations to achieve systems change for under-served populations.
The Golisano Foundation made a “big bet” of $37 million to increase access to healthcare for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) by partnering with Special Olympics and launching Healthy Communities. Now active in 57 communities around the world, the initiative is impacting change on a large scale through innovative partnerships and advocacy.
The Unified Champion Schools approach incorporates Special Olympics sports and related activities while enhancing the youth experience and empowering them to be change agents in their communities. This requires a shift in current programs and paradigms from a focus on events to committing to a movement advocating for youth as leaders.