At the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games, figure skater Jamie Amos of SOBC – Port Alberni participated in his first-ever Healthy Athletes screenings, and found a lot of value in the experience.
“I liked the volunteers that took their time to help athletes like me,” Amos said.
The volunteer health practitioners who deliver Healthy Athletes screenings have received Special Olympics training to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities, to help uncover issues in a welcoming and encouraging environment. With the support of his coach, Amos went through the screenings in Greater Vernon and was given several ways to help his health.
“I especially liked the [Fit Feet] volunteers, as they found a problem and told me how to fix it,” Amos said, and his coach noted how much that matters to him as a figure skater.
In the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes screenings, Amos found out he had been wearing the wrong prescription, and received new glasses thanks to Essilor and Safilo.
In the Special Smiles screenings, he said, “they taught me how to brush my teeth to keep them clean.”
And in the Health Promotion screenings, he got good news: “I learned I have good blood pressure!” he said.
Thanks to 2019 SOBC Games Healthy Athletes Sponsor LifeLabs and the inspiring efforts of dedicated volunteer health practitioners, Healthy Athletes screenings were available to all Games participants and all local individuals with intellectual disabilities in the following disciplines: Fit Feet (podiatry), Health Promotion (wellness information), Healthy Hearing (audiology), Opening Eyes (optometry), and Special Smiles (dentistry).
Final figures are still being tallied, but it’s estimated that approximately 300 people took the opportunity to participate in these significant screenings.
The dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers valued the experience as much as the participants. Led by B.C. Opening Eyes Clinical Director Dr. Brad McDougall, staff from Vancouver Block Optometrists & Ottico gave their time to the Vernon screenings and shared fond feedback at right.
SOBC’s next Healthy Athletes screenings will be hosted in Victoria on May 4, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Colquitz Middle School, with the disciplines of Healthy Hearing, Opening Eyes, Special Smiles, and Nutrition. For more information, please contact Sarah Russell, SOBC Health & Engagement Coordinator, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 604-737-3081.
People with intellectual disabilities experience worse health care and access to services than others in their communities. Globally, millions of people with intellectual disabilities lack access to quality health care and experience dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and suffering, and premature death in every country around the world. One of the big barriers to accessing care is communication challenges.
Through the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program, health care professionals receive training about the specific health care concerns of people with intellectual disabilities and how to ask the right questions, helping them draw out issues. Their interactions with Special Olympics athletes lead to referrals back into the health care system that ensure the individuals will get the treatment they need. And the practitioners take the lessons back to their professional life to help them work with individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Watch Special Olympics BC athlete Carson’s Healthy Athletes story:
Special Olympics is changing the game for athlete health. Our ultimate goal is to create a world where people with and without intellectual disabilities have the same opportunity to be healthy.