Special Olympics Needs to be in Our School Systems

Dear Betsy Devos, From All Of Us, Your Budget To Slash Special Olympics Funding Is Cancelled

"Spirit is defined by perseverance, and Special Olympics is the embodiment of that." - Kevin M. McDermont

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I'm not the person who typically writes about topics that deal with politics, but the budget that Betsy Devos purposed earlier this week transcends politics. The fact that her budget purposes the slashing of funding for Special Olympics in the field of education is a topic that concerns each and every one of us. At its heart, Special Olympics strives to provide equal opportunities to ALL people. What Betsy Devos is purposing takes that and throws it out the window.

I will be quite honest, I haven't done a significant amount of research on her budget or exactly what it says about slashing funds for Special Olympics, but that doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is that if this bill passes it ostracizes an entire population of people from enjoying the freedoms of participating in sports. Not to mention, it is essentially saying that the Special Olympics program isn't worth funding. If we are saying that, then what does that say about how we view those athletes who participate in Special Olympics? They're inferior to us? If that's what we are trying to say, then I'm sorry but we've gotten something royally screwed up along the way.

For us to sit here and take away this program from thousands of students all over the United States will NEVER be OK. I may not know a lot about budgeting or what exactly Betsy Devos purposed for other programs, but I can take a wild guess that other sports programs were not purposed to be slashed. If that is the truth, I'm sorry but that is not right at all. The people that participate in Special Olympics are no different than you and me. They are humans just as we are, and they deserve to be treated as so. They deserve to have the exact same opportunities that everyone else has, including athletics!

Betsy Devos, you screwed this one up.

I truly don't understand how the United States Secretary of Education could, or would, ever think this is a program that should be defunded, or have funds taken from them, in any capacity. I may not have the understanding of someone who has spent years looking over budgets and having to make hard decisions on where to pull funds or add funds, but this I will take a stance on. I have a number of friends who have siblings who participate in Special Olympics and they are just as special and important as any football player who's working towards a Division 1 scholarship.

At the end of the day what this comes down to is how we view others who appear to be "different" than we are. If we saw the athletes that participated in the Special Olympics on the same level as the high school athletes that hundreds of people come out to see under the blinding lights on a Friday night this wouldn't even be a topic of discussion. But the reality is we don't have eyes like God does all the time. We fail to see each other as equals and that's where the entirety of the problem lies. I'm not saying this as someone who has all the answers or has it all figured out, but as someone who realizes that this is an issue and desperately needs to be fixed. So America, let's wake up and get with the times. Let's start seeing each other as equals and stop showing so much partiality.

To Betsy Devos, and anyone else working on this budget, I beg of you to please reconsider the slashing of funds from Special Olympics programs. These students deserve to be able to have a place where they can participate in sports and be shown that they are just as important as anyone else. I know it's not a simple fix and it requires a lot of hard decisions to be made, but I think as human beings this is something we need to stand up for. Keep Special Olympics in school unless you are prepared to defund all athletic programs. That's all I'm trying to say.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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My Learning Disability Was Not Evident, But It Was Not Worth Hiding Either

Will the earth stop turning the day I can catch a ball? If I could do geometry correctly would it be some groundbreaking revelation? No.

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For the first eighteen years of my life, I would not say the words, "I have a learning disability".

I was diagnosed soon after I realized I couldn't hold a pencil correctly, differentiate my lefts and rights, or recognize symbols correctly. My disability is not a black and white common issue, not a lot of people understand it; I struggle to understand myself. I couldn't comprehend why one eye had control over the way my hands worked, my ability to do the math, and the way I see lines and shapes.

A lot of people used to comment on my handwriting, telling me I had "boy handwriting". I would often clench my pencil, clearly frustrated and ignore them. For years, I thought I was just dumb.

I did well in school, but I constantly asked myself why I couldn't just be normal. I watched my peers excel in subjects like math and I felt stupid. I couldn't see the correlations they saw in numbers. Numbers were just numbers to me, but to the "smart people" numbers were like puzzle pieces.

I was odd, I did well in school and a lot of people told me I was smart, but in my mind, I was a complete idiot. I told people that I had problems with my eyes and it hindered my visual processing and people often responded, "But you're so smart." That had nothing to do with it. IQ does not equal ability, being told "you're smart" does not change the fact that I have a disability.

I have had a lot of people say to me, "I wouldn't even know if you didn't tell me." Why should I have to? Will the earth stop turning the day I can catch a ball? If I could do geometry correctly would it be some groundbreaking revelation? No. My point is, the lines will never stop shifting, my pencil will never get easier to hold, I'll still use my fingers to differentiate left and right, but that doesn't make me "less".

No, I'm not some person who struggled greatly in school and ended up defying the odds and getting into a super elite school. I'm an incredibly average person, at a decent school, and that's okay.

I knew that I wouldn't have an inspirational you-can-do-it-too-moment. The best thing that came out of having this disability is being able to come to terms with it. To this day, it is my Achille's heel, my domino effect, and cross to carry. It isn't a big deal to some people but's my greatest obstacle.

This disability caused me to isolate myself from my peers as a child, it killed my self-esteem and kept me from so many opportunities. Sucks right? Not really. Because I saw my self as less at one point, I now see myself as a force to be reckoned with.

I may not be the person who could catch a ball in gym class, but I was the same ten-year-old that walked into the Guidance Counselor's office and said, "I don't need accommodations."

This disability has taken me down dark roads and has caused me to make self-destructive choices, but it taught me a lot about myself. I learned that everybody has something. Whether it's a learning disability, a social disorder, mental health ailments, health complications, etc.

The world will not stop turning because I have a learning disability and poor self-esteem; we have much bigger problems. Above all, we have much greater joys in this life. I am one person out of seven billion; I'm not that different. It took years to realize that I am not "messed up", rather, I'm gifted in ways I still am learning to appreciate.

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