WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) introduced the Best Buddies Empowerment for People with Intellectual Disabilities Act on the House Floor today, which he co-sponsored. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I am proud to speak in favor of this bill supporting Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to the social integration of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is the first social and recreational program of its kind in the United States; it has already reached hundreds of thousands of Americans, both with and without disabilities, a total that is set to reach half a million by 2010.
“Best Buddies fosters and supports friendships and mentorships between participants from kindergarteners to adult professionals, sponsoring more than one thousand volunteer-led chapters at schools and workplaces. Not only do volunteers gain valuable leadership training—they learn first-hand about the important contributions made by their fellow-citizens with intellectual disabilities. And participants with disabilities learn that they are valuable members of our communities, capable of forming a wide range of real and lasting friendships.
“This legislation authorizes a total of $10 million for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements to be distributed to Best Buddies by the Department of Education in Fiscal Year 2010, along with such sums as may be necessary for each of the four succeeding fiscal years. These funds will enable this important organization to reach hundreds of thousands more potential volunteers and participants, promoting the crucial values of shared participation in community and social equality. I want to thank Congressman Blunt for co-sponsoring this bill, and I urge my colleagues to pass it.”