Finding empowerment, fitness, and growth with SOBC health programs in 2023

Two Healthy Athletes participants holding their certificates
Participants having fun at Coquitlam’s Healthy Athlete Screening Day!

What a fantastic year of creating #InclusiveHealth with Special Olympics BC! Thanks to the dedication of athletes, volunteers, and supporters around the province, SOBC’s year-round health initiatives furthered the vision to provide equal access to health care for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Here in B.C., Special Olympics BC’s health work is made possible by the ongoing support of our provincial partners and fundraising events, including the leading role of the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada. Our barrier-breaking initiatives were also supported by the Special Olympics International 2023 Health Impact Grant, with the help of the Golisano Foundation.

These are the four pillars of the global Special Olympics Health program:

  • Play to Prevent | Ongoing Prevention and Fitness: Health promotion, physical activity and fitness, child development, social-emotional health, nutrition, and prevention across a lifespan approach, from Young Athletes to older adult athletes. 
  • Assess to Address | Early Detection and Care Coordination: Health screenings and coordinated follow-up care for Special Olympics athletes.
  • Train to Treat | Training the Health Workforce to Treat and Serve People with ID: Curricula and training to equip the healthcare workforce to better serve, and be more inclusive of, people with ID.
  • Rise Up to Reform | Inclusive Health Advocacy for Improved Health Outcomes: Innovative, targeted policy change at the local, national, regional, and global levels to elevate the voices and health needs of people with ID.

This year, Special Olympics BC made great strides in all of these pillars through the dedicated efforts of athletes, volunteers, and partners, in order to change the game for the health of people with intellectual disabilities.

In 2023, SOBC delivered these health programs and opportunities:

  • Healthy Athletes screenings held in Kamloops, Coquitlam and Terrace benefitted over 150 individuals with intellectual disabilities by helping identify issues and referring them to necessary treatments. These welcoming and supportive events shared helpful health information with many athletes and supporters around the province.
  • Virtual health education sessions throughout the year featuring topics on nutrition, sun safety, mindfulness, and much more.
  • Health Messenger training to help athletes educate peers and advocate in their communities. Get excited for upcoming Health Messenger training opportunities in 2024!
 “Being a Health Messenger allows me to help other people be more aware of their decisions when it comes to nutrition and planning out a good healthy routine that's suitable for them.”

-SOBC – Vancouver athlete and Health Messenger Alexander Pang
  • Club Fit programs and functional testing, which help athletes build their fitness, sport performance, and overall health. Club Fit programs are very popular with hardworking athletes!
    Sgt. Dale Quiring selfie with Surrey Club Fit athletes
    So grateful to have law enforcement members involved with the SOBC community. Thanks to Sargeant Dale Quiring of Surrey Police Service for coaching Club Fit with SOBC – Surrey athletes!
  • In-person Fit Families & Friends programs that help athletes and supporters stay active and connected in the summer months.
  • Youth programs that help children with intellectual disabilities develop vital motor, sport, and social skills and “play to prevent” health challenges.
  • Relationship-building with medical professionals and students so they learn how to best support patients with intellectual disabilities.
  • Development of the Inclusive Health Care Provider list, to help ensure people with intellectual disabilities can find health practitioners who have experience in welcoming and supporting them.

We are so grateful to all of SOBC’s provincial partners who help make our vital ongoing health work possible. Sincere thanks also to all the volunteers and athletes throughout the province who achieved important progress this year! 

Let’s all keep up the important work together to ensure people with intellectual disabilities have the same opportunity to be healthy as everyone else. Everyone can help build #InclusiveHealth!