On June 16th-18th, Special Olympics Saskatchewan hosted the 2017 Provincial Summer Games in Moose Jaw and along with the competition our athletes were able to participate in the Healthy Athletes Program. This program began in 1997 and is made possible by the Golisano Foundation. The purpose is to provide free health examinations to people with intellectual disabilities and in many cases, Healthy Athletes has been able to save lives.
Over the weekend we hosted five health screenings for the Healthy Athletes program, all of which are run by Clinical Directors who specialize in the various areas. The screenings included FitFeet by our Podiatrist Edward Hauck, Opening Eyes by our Optometrists Irene Mestitio-Dao and Tom Weissberger, FUNfitness by our Physiotherapist Jason Daoust, Healthy Hearing by our Audiologist Jason Schmiedge and Special Smiles by Dentist Maureen Lefebre.
The Clinical Directors and other trained specialists who joined to assist were able to screen 140 of the athletes from across the Province. According to Jason Schmiedge, the Clinical Director for Healthy Hearing, that is the largest number of athletes he has screened in any of Special Olympics Games he has done screenings. The large number of screenings would not have been possible without the wide variety of volunteers the Clinical Directors had to assist them, ranging from Kinesiology and nursing students to friends and family members and even Pilots in Moose Jaw who sent out volunteers each day to help out.
After speaking to a couple of the volunteers, they were all amazed at what Special Olympics is able to provide to these athletes and how in-depth these screenings actually go. For the Opening Eyes program, the athletes get a full eye exam. If the Optometrist discovers that the athlete needs glasses or a change to their current prescription those new lenses and frames are provided free of charge to that athlete. For one of our athletes, they came into the screening not having ever worn a pair of glasses and left with a pair of bifocals in order.
Special Smiles includes a check-up and teeth cleaning, FitFeet provides a full foot exam and either inserts, orthotics, or prescription socks provided free of charge, and if the Clinical Directors believe the athlete is in need of more serious treatment that cannot be provided same-day, they are referred to a doctor/specialist in their area.
FUNfitness , ran by Jason Daoust , is very informative for the athletes because it tests their flexibility, strength, balance and aerobic fitness. The athletes are then told at each station ways to improve in each of these areas and can, in the end, be referred to a physiotherapist in their area if further assistance is needed for the athlete.
Overall, it was a very successful weekend for the Healthy Athletes Program. We look forward to continuing to grow the program and provide examinations to our athletes with intellectual disabilities that may not have easy access to the specialists and healthcare we provide.