Proposed Budget Cuts to Miami Dade Park Department to Hit Disabilities Programs Hard

In the proposed Miami Dade County budget for 2009-2010, Leisure Access Services, the section of the Miami Dade County Park Department that serves persons with disabilities, stands to lose six full time positions and cut one position to part time. Programs most adversely affected will be sports programs, called Paralympic Programs,

for children and adults with physical disabilities and the Zot Art Project, which promotes adapted and inclusive art events. Over half of the full time staff running these programs will be eliminated in the proposed budget. Paralympic programs include wheelchair golf programs at Country Club of Miami and Palmetto Golf Courses, the wheelchair basketball team, the wheelchair tennis program, the vision impaired goalball program, the new vision impaired judo program, and swim lessons and water exercise for persons with disabilities in north Dade.

Leisure Access Services staff intend to fight for the programs and the persons they have advocated for and have implemented a plan that includes: educating and organizing the community to reduce cuts to this department; increased fundraising through the Leisure Access Foundation and grants, increased quality and quantity of volunteers and greater staff workload.

HOW CAN YOU HELP? Commissioners do have some flexibility in making their final decision on September 17, 2009. Two additional public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 3, and Sept. 17, before the budget is finalized. Meetings will be held at the Stephen P. Clark Center at 111 NW 1st Street beginning at 5:01 pm in Commission Chambers. Contact your County Commissioner and/or attend a hearing and urge the commission to preserve Park sports and recreation programs for persons with disabilities.