Advocating for inclusion in healthcare on Capitol Hill

On February 9-10, Special Olympics Minnesota athletes, staff and Unified partners met virtually with Members of Congress for Special Olympics’ annual Capitol Hill Day. Capitol Hill Day provides an opportunity for representatives from Special Olympics to advocate and educate Members of Congress about the critical work Special Olympics is doing in sports, healthcare and education.

Our Special Olympics Minnesota representatives had a great time discussing the need for inclusive healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities and the importance of the Unified Champion Schools strategy in creating communities of inclusion.

Special Olympics athlete, Kayte Barton, specifically spoke about the mental health crisis facing people with intellectual disabilities and how Special Olympics is combatting this issue with its Strong Minds program.

Thank you to the following Members of Congress for meeting with Special Olympics Minnesota athletes, staff and Unified partners on Capitol Hill Day 2022!

Representative Angie Craig
Representative Jim Hagedorn
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Representative Betty McCollum
Representative Dean Phillips
Senator Tina Smith
Representative Pete Stauber

It’s never too late to ask your Members of Congress to support Special Olympics! Send an email to your government officials asking them to support continued federal funding for Special Olympics’ Inclusive Health and Unified Champion Schools programming:

Meet the amazing athletes and Unified partners who represented Special Olympics Minnesota on Capitol Hill Day!

Audrey Coleman

Audrey is a senior at Stillwater Area High School. She has been involved with Special Olympics for a little over a year and has been involved in Student Leadership Summits and the Polar Plunge. Her favorite part of Special Olympics and Unified Champion Schools is meeting new friends.

“To me, inclusion means everyone involved is welcomed with kindness. Each individual is able to genuinely be themselves. Each individual has the opportunity to say their ideas or how they feel, and they are respected.”

Rylynn Zanon

Rylynn is a junior at Stillwater Area High School and has been involved with Special Olympics for six years. She participates in bowling and track and field with Special Olympics and adapted soccer and floor hockey with her school. Rylynn is also on Special Olympics Minnesota’s Student Board of Directors and has taken the Polar Plunge.

“It’s important for our government officials to support inclusive initiatives like Special Olympics because Special Olympics gives people who have special needs a chance to feel like they’re a part of a community.”

Kayte Barton

Kayte is from Hugo, Minnesota and has been involved with Special Olympics for over 25 years. She has competed in many sports, her favorite being poly hockey. Currently, Kayte is very active in Special Olympics Minnesota’s health and leadership programs.

Kayte is a Global Messenger and Health Messenger for Special Olympics. She’s passionate about helping athletes get the inclusive healthcare that they deserve and helping educate healthcare professionals about the importance of inclusive medical practices.

“I love that Special Olympics lets me be a leader in my community. I just want people to see the need for inclusion and how supportive Special Olympics Minnesota can be.”