In an April 18 op-ed published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Harvard Law School Professor William Alford ’77 addresses how budget cutting in Congress threatens to undermine the Special Olympics—an organization whose history, according to Alford, “is one of how civil society and government working together can create results that neither could wholly attain on its own.”

Alford also writes: “[Special Olympics] programs convey a message of the value of every citizen and of inclusiveness that is so central to what our nation is about. This paves the way for persons previously excluded to become more involved members of society — succeeding in school, engaging in the labor force and contributing to communities.”

Alford is the Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, and Director of East Asian Legal Studies at HLS. Since 2004, he has served as Chair of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

Special Olympics still conveys the right kind of U.S. diplomacy

by William P. Alford

Budget cutting in the Congress threatens to undermine an unexpected but extraordinary representative of the United States internationally, the Special Olympics. We tend to think of diplomacy as something conducted by high-level officials meeting behind closed doors.

But in this age of citizen activism, here and abroad, Special Olympics — with its grass-roots sports, health, educational and other programs for persons with intellectual disabilities — is imparting the message that every person matters and through it, communicating enduring lessons around the world about American values.

Any proposal to dramatically reduce or eliminate federal funding for core Special Olympics programs, such as that which unites persons with and without intellectual disabilities, and that which provides health care for persons with intellectual disabilities, is a tragedy. …

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