SOPA Delegates Made Case of Need for Funding on Capitol Hill
Special Olympics athletes, Program leaders, Unified Sports partners, and family members from across the United States and the District of Columbia converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on February 12th for Special Olympics’ annual “Capitol Hill Day.” This is the 17th year Special Olympics has organized the event, with over 250 delegates representing 44 states and the District of Columbia. Those participating from the Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) delegation were: Chelsea Drob, SOPA Director of Programming Projects; Athlete Leader, Colt List from Lawrence County; and Colt’s Mentor, Kim Graham.
Special Olympics athletes held more than 300 face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress in both the House and Senate, challenging and inviting their elected officials to partner with them to achieve the goals of expanding Special Olympics Unified Sports® and Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® programming, and to end health care disparities and discrimination against roughly 1% of the US population with intellectual disabilities (ID) by supporting inclusive health initiatives.
Special Olympics athletes, serving as self-advocates, educated lawmakers and their staff about the significant consequences that arise from the stigma and stereotypes faced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They described how that impacts their lives in the areas of sports, health care and education. The goals of Capitol Hill Day were to effectively convey the high impact and cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues, to educate lawmakers and to secure continued support from legislators.
Capitol Hill Day would not be possible without Johnson & Johnson’s continued support. Their on-going commitment allows Special Olympics delegates from across the nation to travel to Washington, D.C. and receive comprehensive training and education to best prepare them for an effective and successful Capitol Hill Day.