Special Olympics New York President & CEO Submits Open Letter to Reimagine New York Education Advisory Council

Albany, NY – Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman recently submitted an Open Letter to members of the Reimagine New York Education Advisory Council, urging them to endorse the Special Olympics Unified Champion School strategy as they shape the future of the state’s education system.

A copy of the letter is available here. Excerpts include:

“Nearly 10,000 students from hundreds of public schools throughout the state are leading an ‘Inclusion Revolution’ as part of the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools strategy. These students are a wonderful resource for you, as they have ‘reimagined’ their individual school communities once already, successfully creating climates where all students are welcomed, accepted, and included in every fabric of the school experience.”

“The statewide period of ‘PAUSE’ has taught us all so much about New York’s many strengths. None of these has been more inspiring than our collective ability to rise up as one in the face of a common threat and in pursuit of a common goal. Sadly, the pause has also highlighted economic, educational, and health disparities that persist among the one in five New Yorkers who have a disability. These students have battled often-overlooked inequities in the school system for decades – hurtful conditions that only became amplified during this time.”

“New York’s public schools can serve all students equally. They should. They must. Now is the time to encourage every school in New York to become a Special Olympics Unified Champion School.”

“Beyond academics, the mission of any school is to teach children valuable life skills. These surely should include tolerance, social justice, and inclusion of all – skills and an attitude that benefit not only themselves but New York’s neighborhoods, workplaces, and communities for years to come. Students don’t learn these skills in math class, or even from their teachers. They learn them from interacting with one another. Our Unified Champion Schools strategy brings students together under this premise and gives them the tools they need to change a generation – together as one.” 

“Any plan for the future of New York’s schools should include the expansion of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools and the powerful example set by today’s Unified Generation.”


About Special Olympics New York

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 67,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with more than 220 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.