Twenty-one Special Olympics New Jersey athlete delegates and eight facilitators headed to the State House on Friday, November 16 to convene in Senate Chambers for their 7th annual Athlete Congress.
The Athlete Congress began with a tour of the State House with Senate President Stephen Sweeney who also swore in the new Athlete Congress delegates. “I wouldn’t miss this!” said Sweeney. “It’s such an honor to be part of the Special Olympics New Jersey Athlete Congress. These delegates are the voice of thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout our state. It is important that their concerns and opinions get to be heard by the leadership of Special Olympics New Jersey.”
Immediately following the tour, the delegates got down to business with the swearing-in, a call to order and roll call. They then broke into meetings for the four standing committees: Nominating & Rights; Education, Awareness & Outreach; Program; and Governance & Rules.
During the committee meetings, delegates discussed issues relevant to participants in Special Olympics. The delegates had administered surveys to their fellow athletes earlier in the year, and those results provided data which formed the basis for determining areas of concern and importance, and ultimately the voting issues.
The meeting concluded with a reading of committee directives and election of the new Athlete Congress Chairperson, Robert Fredericks, and Vice Chairperson, Karen Bruno.
Upon leaving the State House, all delegates will work to develop an action plan to be voted on at the next Athlete Congress. The results of that vote will be sent to the staff and Board of Directors of Special Olympics New Jersey so they may evaluate the directives of most importance to its statewide athlete base of 22,000.
The Athlete Congress empowers Special Olympics athletes to voice their opinions and the opinions of athletes from their areas. The 21 athlete delegates were selected by Area Directors, coaches and fellow athletes, representing South, Central and North Jersey. Many have Special Olympics experience that includes World Games and National Games participation. All have competed at the Chapter level for at least three years and many are involved in multiple sports training and competitions throughout the year.
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