SOBC’s health programs making strides in 2023-24

Special Olympics BC health programs have been making an impactful difference during the 2023-24 season! SOBC runs a variety of year-round health events and initiatives for individuals with intellectual disabilities to help combat the health inequalities and challenges that they often face in our society.

SOBC athlete with headphones on, smiling, and raising a hand up
SOBC – Prince Rupert athlete Stacey Whomes at Terrace’s first-ever Healthy Athletes Screening Day!

SOBC is committed to providing year-round health programs that  break down barriers in health care and empower athletes with active living opportunities and advocacy training.

Read on to be inspired by the health stories and events that have changed lives during the 2023-24 season!

Healthy Athletes screenings providing education and treatment

During the 2023-24 season, SOBC offered Healthy Athletes screenings around the province, providing vital opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to receive proper treatment and education on their health.

In October 2023, SOBC held a Healthy Athletes Screening Day in Terrace for the very first time and saw great success! Attendees participated in free Healthy Hearing (audiology) and Special Smiles (dentistry) screenings, which helped identify issues and educate them on practising proper health care.

"I really liked my experience – it was good! My hearing is now better than it was 10 years ago," said SOBC – Prince Rupert athlete Michelle Keisman.

“I like the friendly people here,” said fellow SOBC – Prince Rupert athlete Stacey Whomes. “I learned how to wash my ears out with water instead of using a cotton swab.”

At Victoria’s Healthy Athletes Screening Day in March, participants also had a blast in learning about health and receiving necessary care from health professionals. 105 total screenings were conducted which led to 29 health referrals back into the general healthcare system! This was also the first time that Fit Feet (podiatry) was offered in the Victoria community for the first time in more than four years.

Having healthy feet is especially crucial for Special Olympics athletes, as it is the basis for a lot of their physical and motor activity. One athlete shared that they do not have proper arches in their feet, which has been causing them discomfort. When attending a Healthy Athletes station at a 2024 Regional Qualifier event, they were able to receive professional care for their feet for the very first time! They received a pair of shoe insoles and were informed of shoes to buy for flat feet.

Learn more about Healthy Athletes

Stacey standing next to SOBC Healthy Athletes banner
SOBC – Campbell River athlete Catherine Crowe at Victoria’s Healthy Athletes Screening Day!

With the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024 instilling countless memories of competition, friendship, and fun from February 27 to March 2, athletes also got the opportunity to attend Healthy Athletes screenings in between competitions.

There were over 880 participants screened during National Games, with over 200 referrals being made!

"This is my first Healthy Athletes screening,” said SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook athlete Daryl Mayer. “I'm learning a lot and I'm enjoying myself! I think it's a good thing to attend and the volunteers are doing an awesome job. I wouldn't change a thing!”

Sincere thanks to all the volunteer health care professionals and supporters who make these screenings a big success! We are so grateful for your life-changing support.

SOBC often receives questions from athletes and families about recommended health care providers and who to visit for their health concerns. To help fill this gap, Special Olympics BC is developing a public list of Inclusive Health Care Providers – those with proven experience caring for, and working with, people with intellectual disabilities.

With your help, we are looking to expand this list to include health care providers across British Columbia. If you know any health practitioners who would be interested in this opportunity, please click here to suggest them for consideration. Special Olympics BC will reach out to them to ask if they would like to be included on the upcoming list.


Jenna standing getting her height measured by health volunteer professional
SOBC – Port Alberni athlete Jenna Domovich is all smiles during the Healthy Athletes screenings at National Games!

SOBC Health Messengers spreading the word about #InclusiveHealth

Special Olympics Health Messengers and Health Heroes are trained athletes who serve as health and wellness leaders, educators, and role models within their communities. They empower fellow athletes and advocate for the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

In March 2024, nine athletes participated in Health Messenger and Health Hero training! They gained valuable skills and knowledge in a wide range of health topics such as physical activity, nutrition, hydration, and emotional health.

Four athletes became trained Health Messengers and five athletes became trained Health Heroes! Congratulations everyone – we are so excited to see more athletes become advocates for #InclusiveHealth!

The success and impact of SOBC’s health programs could not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. A big shoutout to RBC Foundation for recently donating $10,000 to SOBC to support our health programs! Members of RBC Foundation presented the cheque at SOBC – Coquitlam’s athletics practice, much to the delight of all the athletes, coaches, and supporters!

We are so grateful to the leading roles of the Government of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, and RBC Foundation for their life-changing impact on SOBC’s health programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities!

Learn more about SOBC Health

Get involved with SOBC Health

Group photo of SOBC Coquitlam athletes and coaches with RBC members holding a big cheque
SOBC – Coquitlam athletes and coaches celebrating RBC Foundation’s generous donation!