Special Olympics Minnesota athletes at White House
Two Special Olympics Minnesota athletes attended a White House reception Oct. 8 celebrating the enactment of Rosa’s Law, a bill signed into law Oct. 5 that removes the term “mental retardation” from federal statutes and replaces it with “intellectual disability.” Danielle Liebl of Richmond and Roberta Blomster of Vadnais Heights accompanied Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Tim Shriver along with eight other athletes, advocates and members of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors to the White House.
“Danielle Liebl and Roberta Blomster are both strong self-advocates for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and we’re delighted they will be able to witness this historic step toward unity,” said David Dorn, President and CEO of Special Olympics Minnesota. “The passing of Rosa’s Law is a great move in the right direction, but we have more work to be done in the media, on our school yards and beyond.”
Rosa’s Law was championed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) after meeting Rosa Marcellino and her family from Edgewater, Maryland. Rosa, born with Down syndrome, inspired the senator to take up the fight after derogatorily being labeled a “retard” by her classmates in 2009.
Special Olympics championed the use of “people first language” by changing its own terminology from “mental retardation” to “people with intellectual disabilities” in 2004 after a call to action from its athletes to the movement’s leadership. In 2008 Special Olympics launched www.r-word.org where the public can pledge to stop using the R-word in a derogatory manner and promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Youth leaders at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho began the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign as a grassroots, youth-led movement in schools and communities across the United States and around the world to raise awareness of the hurtful nature of the word “retard(ed)” and to promote the positive impact people with intellectual disabilities can and do make in every community.
Liebl, 19, is a freshman at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph and a 2010 graduate of Rocori High School in Cold Spring. Liebl has been active with Special Olympics Minnesota since she was 11, including the Athlete Leadership Program where she trained as a spokesperson and leader for the organization. Liebl competed in the Special Olympics 2006 USA National, was awarded the Minnesota State Council on Disability Youth Award in 2008 and was one of 20 athletes selected to attend the Special Olympics Global Youth Summit in 2009. During her senior year of high school, Liebl activated her peers toward acceptance and inclusion by forming a Partners Club® promoting social activity between students with and without intellectual disabilities, and traveled to Minnesota schools as an advocate for change through the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. Liebl spoke with Minnesota representatives in Washington, D.C. in January at Special Olympics Capitol Hill Day, and this summer she interned at Special Olympics International and presented at the 2010 Youth Activation Summit as part of the Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games. Liebl is a member of the Special Olympics Project UNIFY® National Youth Activation Committee and plans to continue her advocacy work as she attends the 2011 Global Youth Summit in Athens, Greece as part of the 2011 World Summer Games.
Blomster, 35, joined Special Olympics Minnesota in 1993. A multi-sport athlete and coach, Blomster also participates in the Athlete Leadership Program and is a trained public speaker. Blomster was named Female Athlete of the Year by Special Olympics Minnesota in 1998, won gold at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 1999, served as Speaker of the House for Special Olympics Minne-sota’s Athlete Congress in 2000 and attended an Athlete Leadership Program Conference in Atlanta, Ga. in 2002.
Blomster was an active advocate for Minnesota’s People First legislation, passed in 2005, which eliminated the use of “mental retardation” in state statutes and rules. She received a three-year appointment the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Development Disabilities in 2005 and was re-appointed in 2008. Blomster has continued her self-advocacy work by participating in the 2007 Special Olympics Capitol Hill Day and writing a column on athletes and government for Spirit Magazine, a publication of Special Olympics International.
BBB awards announced
One of the winners of a 2010 Minnesota and North Dakota Better Business Bureau Integrity Award is a company that serves senior citizens. The awards were presented Oct. 20 during a ceremony at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Kathy Tunheim, President and CEO of Tunheim Partners, Inc., was the keynote speaker at the event.
Right at Home, a Bloomington Company, won in Category VI, for firms with 100 or more employees. Right at Home specializes in providing non-medical care for seniors to help them remain living independently in their homes.
The BBB Integrity Awards are presented each year to companies who exemplify ethical behavior and display integrity in all aspects of their operations; toward their employees, vendors, customers, and within their community. Companies must also uphold BBB standards. Winners are chosen by an independent panel of judges.
“The Integrity Awards are always the highlight of our year,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “It’s the night we get to focus our attention on—and applaud—the companies that shine brightest in our region and set the standard by which other companies are measured.”
Visit www.bbb.org or call 651-699-1111 or 1-800-646-6222 to learn more about the awards and the other companies honored.
New clinic is now open
Hennepin County Medical Center’s Whittier Clinic, a new, state-of the-art multi-specialty center, opened for patients Oct. 18. The new clinic replaced the existing Family Medical Center clinic, one of Hennepin County Medical Center’s four neighborhood clinics, and provides access to multi-specialty care in South Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs.
Family Medical Center served South Minneapolis in its Lake Street location for nearly 25 years; however, its patient base increased to the point that the current clinic was too small.
“We had outgrown our facility, and if we didn’t do something, we would have eventually had to stop seeing new patients,” said Jerry Potts, MD, Chief of Family Medicine at HCMC.
In addition to primary care (family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology), patients at the new facility will have access to HCMC specialists in orthopedics, cardiology, sports medicine, integrative health, physical therapy and surgery.
“Patients now have access to more specialty care services in the community, rather than having to travel downtown to see a specialist,” said Potts. “We also have an on-site pharmacy, free parking and easy access to public transportation.”
The clinic project was part of a reinvestment in outdated facilities funded by general obligation bonds that were approved by the Hennepin County Board when the governance model for HCMC changed in 2007.
Located at 2810 Nicollet Ave., two blocks north of the original clinic site on West Lake Street, the 59,200-square-foot building replaced a number of shuttered warehouses on the one-block site. The building and site is a showcase for sustainable design, including landscaping designed to reduce irrigation needs, healing gardens with native plants and natural stone boulders for seating; natural lighting complemented by reduced-mercury light fixture and design and systems exceeding code requirements for energy efficiency.
McGough Company was the general contractor and HGA was the architect on the building that started construction in July of 2009.