Hi my name is Kayte Barton and I am 46 years old. I have been involved in Special Olympics for 25 years and I am a global health messenger. I help athletes learn how to take better care of themselves and help SO learn how to provide inclusive health to the people in their organization and in community conversations. I have done many sports in Special Olympics but my favorites are hockey and swimming. I like to walk and helping others with intellectual disabilities to stay healthy. During COVID we were able to adapt the program to a virtual format so I could help athletes with their health throughout the pandemic.
I would like to talk about how I wrote a bill. During the READI program the bill came to life. I learned how to do the research to find data to find answers to my questions. I was looking up data for intellectual disabilities and obesity and I could not find a lot of data on these issues. I also found out during my research that insurance does not cover health issues related to obesity unless you are diagnosed as diabetic before obese. My bill was to have the Department of Health in Minnesota track obesity so they could see it before it became a problem. I wanted to create a program aimed at curbing it. I wanted to make more people aware of how to engage in healthy activities. I also wanted to change the Medicare and Medicaid systems to reframe the way covered obesity and diabetes so that it could be covered regardless of which came first. I put a reward system in for those that lost weight and followed the healthy food choices. Every person that lost ten pounds would receive a gift card as incentive. I also wanted to create a card similar to food stamps where people could purchase food at the grocery store but it only would work for healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. I met with my state lawmakers to discuss my bill to see if they would support it and the House and Senate agreed to take on my bill. They sent it to the advisors office to revise it and put it into ‘their language’. By April 20th my bill was introduced to the Senate floor. By May 3rd it was introduced onto the House floor. And they both passed to discusses in committees by Fall 2021. My next goal if all goes well in the Fall is to take the same bill to my federal legislatures to help improve the lives of people throughout the United States with intellectual disabilities.