SPECIAL REPORT: SPECIAL OLYMPICS

April 03, 2019 at 4:45 am

The Trump Administration has reversed course on cutting funding for this important event, but the fallout continues. We have the details.

For the Special Olympics New York event schedule, click here.

For volunteer opportunities with Special Olympics New York, click here.

Aired on April 2, 2019. 

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>> ON MARCH 27th, EDUCATION
SECRETARY BETSY DeVOS PROPOSED
THE ELIMINATION OF NEARLY $18
MILLION OF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR
THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS.
HER ANNOUNCEMENT WAS IMMEDIATELY
FOLLOWED BY CRITICISM FROM BOTH
SIDES OF THE AISLE.
THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE BERNIE SANDERS CALLED
IT UNBELIEVABLE.
WHILE FORMER 2016 PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE JOHN KASICH SAID IT
WAS JOOUTRAGEOUS.
24 HOURS LATER TRUMP SAID WE'RE
FULL FUNDING.
IT DOES MORE THAN SOME THINK AND
FEDERAL FUNDING IS THE KEY TO
ITS EXISTENCE.
HERE WITH ENSIGHTS, STACY,
WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> FIRST, DO I WARM TO START
WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WE
HEARD FROM BETSY DeVOS.
EVEN THOUGH IT WAS WALKED BACK.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU
FIRST HEARD THAT?
>> I THINK I WAS.
I THINK ALL OF OUR NEW YORK FANS
AND FRIENDS WERE VERY CONCERNED.
THIS FUNDING WAS TARGETED
FUNDING FOR OUR UNIFIED CHAMPION
SCHOOLS PROGRAM WITHIN THE
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
IT WASN'T, WE'RE NOT FEDERALLY
FUNDED PER SE THAT WE GET SO
MUCH MONEY PER ATHLETE OR
ANYTHING.
THIS WAS A PROGRAM THAT WE USE
SPECIFICALLY FOR OUR WORK IN THE
SCHOOLS.
IT IS A NEWER PROGRAM THE LAST
DECADE OR SO.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN
A HUGE CHAMPION OF THE UNIFIED
CHAMPIONS SCHOOL PROGRAM.
IT REALLY PROMOTES INCLUSION
WHICH IS REQUIRED BY OUR FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT.
WE'RE HELPING THEM GET WORK
DONE.
>> FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T REALLY
GET WORK DONE, HOW MUCH PROVIDES
TO ALL CHILDREN.
NOT JUST SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN
BUT ALSO NONSPECIAL NEEDS
CHILDREN.
>> IF YOU THINK OF YOUR HIGH
SCHOOL, YOUR SPORTS HIGH.
NOW IN 145 EXCUSE ACROSS NEW
YORK STATE WE HAVE A UNIFIED
TEAM WHICH MEANS HALF THE
INSTITUTES HAVE IT AND HALF
DON'T.
SO IT IS THE SAME RULES, SAME
OFFICIALS, UNIFORMS, AS THE
OTHER TYPICAL SPORTS TEAMS THAT
WE'RE USED TO SEEING.
THAT'S JUST ONE COMPONENT.
WE WORK OTHER STUDENTS DIRECTLY
WITH THEM TO HAVE ALL YEAR ROUND
ACTIVITY THAT'S PROMOTE
TOLERANCE AND EMPATHY AND SCHOOL
SPIRIT.
SO IN ADDITION TO THE UNIFY THAT
YOU JUST MENTIONED, WE HAVE LOTS
OF PROGRAMMING.
WE HAVE THE SPORTS PROGRAMMING.
WE DO 5,800 COMPETITIONS A YEAR.
THIS WEEKEND WE HAVE A
VOLLEYBALL.
THEY TRAIN ALL YEAR ROUND.
JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE A
DISABILITY DOESN'T MEAN THAT.
IT IS AN AMAZING VOLUNTEER
OPPORTUNITY TO GET THESE TEENS
TOGETHER AND TO WORK WITH THEM.
TO GET THEM TO THE REGIONAL
LEVEL, THE STATES LEVEL.
WE JUST SPENT SIX PEOPLE TO ABU
DHABI.
THEY JUST CAME BACK.
IT IS EXCITING AND WE COULD NOT
DO IT WITHOUT OUR VOLUNTEERS.
>> GOING BACK TO THE WHOLE ISSUE
OF FUNDING.
THAT'S AT THE FOREFRONT RIGHT
NOW.
IS THIS FUNDING GOING TO THINGS
LIKE TRAVELING?
>> ALL OF OUR ATHLETES COMPETE
AND OUR UNIFIED PARTNERS.
THE STUDENTS WHO COMPETE WITH
OUR STUDENTS WITH INTELLECTUAL
DISABILITIES.
IT IS ALL FREE OF CHARGE.
THEY HAVE ON TRAIN, GO TO THE
BASKETBALL FACILITY AND WORK.
WE PAY FOR ALL OF THAT.
SO WE RELY FLAP TLOPIC DONATIONS
AND NEW YORK CAUSE THE GOOD JOB
SUPPORTING US.
WE HAVE LOTS OF WORK TO DO.
WE WANT TO HAVE MORE
OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR ATHLETES.
WE HAVE LOTS OF GREAT PLANS TO
DO THAT.
>> THEN AGAIN TO GO BACK TO
FUNDING, SO MANY ISSUES BECOME
PAWNS WHEN IT COMES TO THE STATE
AND FEDERAL LEVEL.
THE FACT THIS WAS EVEN
CONSIDERED TO BE A CUT, I'M JUST
WONDERING, WHAT WAS THE
COMMUNITY'S REACTION THAT IT WAS
EVEN ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK?
>> IT IS A BUMMER.
I THINK THE OUTPOURING OF
SUPPORT THAT WE GOT SO FAST, AND
ALL OF OUR OFFICES WERE FLOODED.
I THINK OUR VOLUNTEERS.
WE'VE GOTTEN FOUR TIMES THE
INQUIRIES ABOUT VOLUNTEERING IN
THE LAST WEEK AND ALL THE
OFFICES THAT WE HAD IN THE WEEK
PRIOR.
WE HAVE ONE SCHOOL THAT WROTE
DIRECTLY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF
EDUCATION.
THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO US.
WE COULDN'T FEEL BETTER ABOUT
OURSELVES.
AND WE WERE DISAPPOINTED THAT
THE GOVERNMENT FOR A SMALL
PERIOD OF TIME DIDN'T VALUE THE
WORK WE WERE DOING.
WE'RE HAPPY THAT WAS REVERSED.
WE'RE SO HAPPY THAT OUR MESSAGE
IS THROUGHOUT TO SO MANY.
THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF NEW
YORK HERE'S CAME RIGHT TO OUR
DEFENSE.
>> SO OUT OF A POTENTIAL, THAT'S
WHAT WE WANT TO FOCUS ON.
>> I THINK THAT'S WHAT YOU'LL
FIND WITH SPECIAL OLYMPICS IN
NEW YORK AND ALL OVER THE
PROGRAM.
WE HAVE THE LARGEST, 68,000
ATHLETES.
IF YOU'RE INVOLVED, YOU FEEL
GOOD.
YOU'RE DOING THE RIGHT THING.
YOU'RE GETTING TO MEET DIFFERENT
PEOPLE.
IT'S FUN.
AS FIERCE AS THAT COMPETITION
IS, THEY DO WANT THAT GOAL.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE, YOU WILL SEE
TEAMMATES SHAKING EACH'S HANDS.
YOU GO AWAY HAVING SOMETHING TO
CHEER ABOUT.
>> TO FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION
ON NEW YORK'S SPECIAL OLYMPICS
PROGRAM, GO TO METRO FOLKS.ORG.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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