Newark High School Students Join Special Olympics New York for 2022 Capitol Hill Day
Students Met with Members of Congress to Request Federal Funding to Benefit People with Intellectual Disabilities
Newark, NY – Four Newark High School students and their Unified Sports coach joined Special Olympics New York leaders this week for 2022 Capitol Hill Day, advocating for federal funding to support Special Olympics Unified Sports and Inclusive Health programs.
Newark Coach Matt Groot and students Ammorette Laws, Sara George, Coty Coons, and Elijiah Malach shared their stories with Representative Joseph D. Morelle and with staff from the offices of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Representative Ritchie Torres, and Representative Claudia Tenney. Special Olympics New York Athlete Alfred Ha, of Manhattan, also participated.
“When we meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill, the people they really want to hear from are the athletes and students who benefit from our programs,” said Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “So we called in some of the best of the best, and the team from Newark High School definitely hit it out of the park. We are fortunate to have such excellent athlete leaders advocating for Special Olympics.”
“I’m so proud of what this team has accomplished, on and off the court,” said Coach Groot. “Unified Sports is a student-led movement that has completely changed the culture at our high school. Today, Newark is one of the most inclusive schools in the state not only because of our partnership with Special Olympics New York but because of students like Ammorette, Sara, Coty, and Elijiah who have led us in the right direction.”
Special Olympics International CEO Mary Davis joined the New York delegation for its meeting with Senator Schumer’s office. She said, “For more than 50 years, Special Olympics athletes and youth leaders have defied expectations, broken barriers, and shattered stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. Their continued work to build truly inclusive communities is only possible with critical funding from the U.S. government, which is complemented by private support.”
Special Olympics athletes, organization leaders, and supporters from across the United States participated in Hill Day, including more than 400 delegates representing 47 states and the District of Columbia. Typically, Special Olympics U.S. Programs travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with their state’s Members of Congress in person. However, due to COVID-19, all meetings were held virtually this year.
Special Olympics educated lawmakers and their staff about the stigma faced by people with ID, and how high-impact and cost-effective Special Olympics programming in sports, health, and education can reduce discrimination.
In nearly 7,500 Unified Champion Schools across the country and more than 250 in New York, Special Olympics has trained and mobilized youth leaders and educators to create more inclusive schools by including students with ID in all aspects of school life. Special Olympics also offers critical health programming where Special Olympics athletes receive free health screenings and year-round health and fitness interventions, and where health professionals are trained to treat people with ID to increase access to quality care for people with ID in their communities.
About Special Olympics New York
Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 51,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.