Tuesday, July 22, 2008

School-age disabled athletes celebrate new Maryland law

From The Baltimore Examiner July 21:

Implementing the nation's first law guaranteeing disabled athletes the chance to compete alongside their peers may be a tricky process, students said July 21 at a celebration of the law's passage.

The law, which Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law in May, guarantees disabled students the right to race or play alongside students in mainstream athletics, unless their participation endangers the players.

"This measure will make Maryland the very first to require that all athletes, including those with disabilities, will be allowed to participate in school sports and activities," O'Malley said after attending the event at M&T Bank Stadium. "I hope other states will follow suit."

Students celebrated the law's passage with games like wheelchair basketball, golf, bocce ball and "goalball" - which sighted people play blindfolded alongside blind players.

The hard work facing public schools is worth the benefits of the law, O'Malley said.

"There's no progress without struggle," O'Malley said. "I'm sure we'll figure out ways to make this work ... We shouldn't relegate people because of their disabilities to the sidelines."