Pictured: SOLA Coach Mike Rhodes, Special Olympics Chairman, Timothy P. Shriver, and SOLA Athlete, Aaron Rhodes
Special Olympics athletes, leaders, and family members from 39 states converged on Capitol Hill yesterday, February 10 for Special Olympics’ 14th annual “Capitol Hill Day.” Throughout the day, Special Olympics athletes from across the nation held more than 250 face-to-face meetings with their Congressional representatives to advocate for continued federal support for critical health and education services provided by Special Olympics. These services transcend the playing field and transform the lives of athletes and families, bringing inclusion and greater acceptance of all abilities to classrooms across the country and providing essential health care that is otherwise often unavailable due to the lack of trained health care providers and facilities.
Special Olympics self-advocates educated lawmakers and their staffs about the significant consequences that arise from the stigma and stereotypes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face and how that impacts their lives in the areas of sports, health care, education, and employment. The goal was to effectively convey the high-impact and cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues, and to secure continued support from legislators.
Special Olympics Louisiana sent staff, SOLA Coach Mike Rhodes, and his son and SOLA athlete, Aaron Rhodes.
“The Special Olympics movement has been a leader in connecting people with intellectual disabilities and encouraging greater understanding and inclusion across the world,” said Mary Davis, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Special Olympics. “The U.S. Government’s partnership with Special Olympics to support Americans with intellectual disabilities has helped to raise awareness and catalyze support from governments around the globe for people with intellectual disabilities.”
Special Olympics Chairman, Timothy P. Shriver, said “the U.S. Government has been a steadfast champion of the Special Olympics movement which fights against inactivity, injustice, and intolerance of people with intellectual disabilities. We have been successful partners in working to create a unified America through inclusive sports, education and health programs. Together we need to continue working towards ensuring Americans with intellectual disabilities have the same rights, respect, access to services, and opportunities as all other Americans.”