Special Olympics Mississippi could see effects from proposed cuts

Federal Funding cuts to Special Olympics

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - This week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed a $17.6 million dollar cut to Special Olympics. Members of Congress were not too pleased with the proposal.

So what impact could this have on athletes here in Mississippi?

The Special Olympics offers more than 30 Olympic style sports for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

This week Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed budget cuts for education funding, and the Special Olympics.

Sam Wells with the Special Olympics of Mississippi says those proposed cuts could affect their Unified Champion Schools.

The program is aimed to help student athletes with disabilities represent their school and play with other students.

“It just helps bring inclusion into the forefront for some of our students. And teaches them at a young age to be inclusive, to not have stereotypes about individuals with intellectual disabilities. Or really any individuals at all we have seen growth across the country. And it really just teaches folks at a young age to be more inclusive, to be you know just a real big family really," said Wells

There are 25 Unified Champion Schools in the Magnolia state. Florence and Richland High School participate, and so does Brandon Elementary, and Northwest Rankin Middle School.

They also have them at the college level. Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Millsaps have Unified Champion Schools.

The Special Olympics here, provides everything from uniforms, equipment, and the building blocks to make the athletes more outgoing and prepared for the real world.

“Next fall we’ll have 30 come on. So we’ll have a lot of schools across the state of Mississippi that this money definitely goes towards helping, and we don’t want to lose them for sure. It allows them to play sports, it gets them involved in the community, it helps them meet other people with similar disabilities, and similar things that they’re going through as well,” said Wells.

The Special Olympics are also funded through donations from around the state, and community partners, and funding from the state itself.

He says losing funding such as this would neglect the programs current success, and children’s opportunities in the future.

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