Two thousand athletes from Canada, the United States and the Caribbean are in Toronto competing at the Special Olympics Invitational Youth Games.

This community tends to fly so far under the radar that few people knew that until they took the unprecedented step of booing Ontario Premier Doug Ford during the opening ceremony.

This is not some lefty political group. This is a community whose sole purpose is to see young people with an intellectual disability build their fitness, skills, confidence and community connections through sport.

The athletes who are giving their all in athletics, basketball and floor hockey today are the same people who just a few years from now, if not already, will struggle to get a job.

They’re a vulnerable group who risk being taken advantage of by employers, so they need strong labour laws and worker protections. The very things the Ford government is rolling back.

And no matter how hard they try, a great many will not be able to support themselves and will have to rely on ODSP, the provincial disability support program. That means they’ll suffer from some of the Ford government’s changes to that program and its moves to shift people off disability support and into even greater destitution on welfare.

They’ve already been hurt by the government axing a $3-million program that helps young people with a developmental disability transition to adulthood. Their families sit on lengthy wait lists to get government support for respite care and other costly special needs and, unlike services for kids with autism, there’s absolutely no urgency on the part of the Ford government to address any of that.

Anytime a provincial government looks to cut budgets and find efficiencies in social services, education and health care, as this government is doing, it’s the most vulnerable groups who suffer the most.

These athletes and their families had no trouble making that connection on Tuesday night when Ford stepped to the podium at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

But even after being publicly trashed by what, it must be said, are an awfully nice group of people, Ford still can’t seem to connect the dots.

“I’ll always continue to support kids with disabilities. I’ve done it my whole life,” he said afterwards.

Ford was referring to his activities with the Rotary Club. And he’s missing the point every bit as much as he did during the election when he dodged a debate to discuss important Black community issues and defended himself by stating: “I brought 80 kids from the Black community up to my cottage.”

Almost a year into the job, Ford still doesn’t seem to understand the difference between an act of personal charity and the necessary role of government.

If Ford is a decent citizen who spends his personal time doing good deeds in the community, that’s really great.

But it doesn’t absolve him, as premier, of leading a government with policies that help people, rather than hurt them.

Ford brushed off questions about the booing, saying that “being there for the kids” is what matters.

He’s actually right about that. Now he just needs to make the leap to government and its role in “being there” with the programs and supports they need to thrive.