By Special Olympics New York | March 4, 2022

Country’s Largest State Chapter Aims to Reach 71,000 Athletes with Life Changing Programs by 2025

NYC Targeted for Growth in Response to Urgent Need Among People with Intellectual Disabilities

New York City, NY – Special Olympics New York today launched Strategic Plan 2022-25: Growing an Inclusive New York, the first Strategic Plan to be released under the leadership of President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. The plan sets an ambitious goal of more than doubling the number of Special Olympics athletes statewide while targeting New York City communities where the need for inclusive programming is most urgent.

Launch video and full details can be found at specialolympics-ny.org/strategic-plan/. 

“Our Strategic Plan is the result of what we have learned about New Yorkers with intellectual differences (ID) not only in the 50 years since our founding but throughout the most devastating health pandemic of our time,” said Hengsterman. “This plan is about who our athletes are and who they can be. It’s about the next generation of athletes who need us but don’t know us yet. It’s about being the best we can be for them, and their families, as well as New York’s schools and communities.”

“Special Olympics New York changes lives every single day,” said Ceylane Meyers-Ruff, chair of the Board of Directors. “Without Special Olympics, there are so many children, youth, and adults with intellectual differences who may never dare to dream they could play a sport, be part of a team, or meet such an incredible network of friends. Our Strategic Plan positions Special Olympics New York to reach each and every eligible athlete while driving diversity, equity, and inclusion within our programs as well as the New York communities we serve.”

With more than 31,000 athletes registered for Special Olympics New York in 2021, the organization currently serves about 6% of the estimated 550,000 New Yorkers eligible for participation. The strategic plan sets an ambitious goal of more than doubling the number of athletes served over the next three years, reaching at least 13% of eligible New Yorkers – or 71,000 athletes – by 2025. An expanded presence in New York City, where the need for Special Olympics programming is most urgent, will account for a significant portion of the growth.

The plan is built around three goals, in which Special Olympics New York will do the following:

Enhance: Increase the depth of participation and quality of current opportunities for existing athletes, coaches, and other stakeholders; Expand: Recruit the next generation of athletes, coaches, and partners, particularly in underserved communities; and Empower: Achieve organizational excellence in order to build upon the mission of Special Olympics and secure its future. Steps to further its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion are prioritized throughout the Special Olympics New York plan.

“It goes without saying that inclusion is at the heart of all that we do. People look to us for leadership in this area, as they should,” said Hengsterman. “That is why our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are woven throughout our plan to grow a more inclusive New York. It is imperative that Special Olympics New York employs, serves, and partners with a population that is as diverse as the state’s communities. We are proud to be an organization that prioritizes, celebrates, and respects people of all backgrounds and perspectives.”

The release of a new strategic plan coincides with Special Olympics New York Day, celebrated statewide each Mach 6th in New York in commemoration of the organization’s founding in 1970.

About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 31,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.