WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) introduced H.R. 2152, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act, with 30 original cosponsors. It passed the House last year with broad bipartisan support. This legislation honors the legacy of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and supports people with intellectual disabilities and their families. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act would reauthorize the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act, authorize the Department of Education to make grants to the Best Buddies organization to support the expansion and development of mentoring programs for people with intellectual disabilities, and support the establishment of Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institutes for Sport and Social Impact. All of these programs improve and advance opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to fully participate and engage in sports and recreation, social activities, and other community opportunities.
“The legislation being introduced today continues Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s legacy by increasing the quality of life for millions of people worldwide with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “Both Special Olympics and Best Buddies are committed to ensuring that every person has the opportunity to live full, successful lives, and I strongly support their efforts. These two organizations have made significant progress in improving the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities, and I’m proud to join with them as we continue working to ensure every person can reach their full potential.”
“The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act of 2011 is essential,” said Rep. Peter King (R-NY). “It is imperative that we provide individuals with intellectual disabilities opportunities and programs which will enhance their enjoyment, development and employment opportunities.”
“The filing of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act in the House of Representatives, along with its partner bill filed previously in the Senate, shines a bright light of hope for our athletes,” shared Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman and CEO. “This moment demonstrates the importance of having true champions like Representatives Hoyer and King who act on behalf of all people with intellectual disability. My mother would be applauding enthusiastically for this commitment to building communities of acceptance and opportunity across our nation and world.”
Anthony K. Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International said, “Best Buddies everywhere are thrilled that House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Congressman Peter King recognize the importance of building a more inclusive America. Passage of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act will enable more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become active and full participants in our schools, our communities, and our workplaces. My mother blazed a trail that led to greater acceptance of people with special needs. On behalf of all Best Buddies participants in Maryland, New York, and throughout the nation, and in memory of my mother, I applaud them for their bold leadership and dedication to continuing my mother’s work until the ideals of equality and opportunity are realized for all Americans.”
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded and influenced the development of Special Olympics and Best Buddies, both of which celebrate the possibilities of a world where everybody counts, every person has value, and every person has worth. For the past 40 years, Special Olympics has encouraged skill development, sharing, courage, and confidence through year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Similarly, since 1989, Best Buddies has enhanced the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for 1-1 friendships and integrated employment. Best Buddies is determined to end social isolation for people with intellectual disabilities by promoting meaningful friendships between them and their peers without disabilities in order to help increase the self-esteem, confidence, and abilities of people with and without intellectual disabilities.