Washington, April 14 – On his swing through New York state, Kasich stopped by Shema Kolainu-HearOurVoices, a school in the Orthodox neighborhood of Borough Park in Brooklyn catering to children with autism and their families.
Founded in 1998, the nonprofit, nondenominational, multicultural school provides broad spectrum education and therapeutic programs to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related disabilities.
“We’re going to have a moment to go to a school where we have young Orthodox Jews who are experiencing some – we call them disabilities – maybe the Lord sees it in a different way,” Kasich said on Tuesday outside the adjacent Shmurah Matzoh Bakery he had visited prior to the school.
“They’re made special, different than we are,” Kasich continued. “We’re going to look at the love that is laid upon not just the Jewish boys and girls who suffer from Autism or any form of disability but also it’s a school that’s open to all people because that is the great tradition of the Jewish community.”
The school and community-based educational and therapeutic programs serve more than 1,000 children, ranging from newborn to 11-years-of-age, from all five boroughs of New York City.
While at the school, Kasich fielded questions from the students, who expressed support for his candidacy. The students presented him with a gift of a painting of the White House.
“I’m glad John Kasich was in Borough Park today to visit Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices so that he got to witness firsthand how the children’s lives are elevated every day,” Ezra Friedlander, a Democratic strategist and CEO of The Friedlander Group, who was accompanying Kasich, told the Jewish Insider. “I saw compassion in Kasich’s eyes and a genuine interest in learning more about programs for children with autism.”
Since he entered the presidential race, Kasich has talked about Autism often on the trail. Last summer, Kasich talked about the importance of embracing people with disabilities, specifically stating that people on the Autism spectrum should very much have access to healthcare without bankrupting their families. Following this speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, Kasich became emotional when speaking about this with RespectAbility reporter James Trout, who is on the Autism spectrum himself.
More recently, in his response to the #PwDsVote 2016 Presidential Questionnaire, Kasich’s campaign responded by addressing four issues – one being Autism:
Coverage for Autism: In an unprecedented statement of support for families with autistic children, Gov. Kasich included coverage for the treatment of autism in state employees’ health plans and state regulated insurance plans.
Kasich is the only remaining Republican candidate to have responded to the questionnaire.