Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program is offered by Special Olympics chapters across the world. Good health improves the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by improving each Special Olympics athlete’s ability to train and compete in sports. Special Olympics works with global partners, governments, and policy-making organizations to ensure health services, education, and opportunities reach individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID).
Recent research has shown that people with ID’s have higher needs and health risks which are due to a lack of health education, health promotion, and health care. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are 40 percent more likely to acquire a preventable secondary health condition, such as obesity, poor fitness, nutritional deficits, untreated or poorly treated vision, dental, hearing and podiatric problems. Yet, these individual’s are often denied necessary health services. This is where Healthy Athletes comes in.
Healthy Athlete events are organized in a way which intrigues athletes. These events educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and also identify health related problems that may require additional follow-up. This is achieved by basic health screenings, provision of preventative and treatment services, educational information, and referrals to the necessary health practitioners.
Special Olympics is able to offer a variety of Healthy Athlete disciplines which focus on a wide range of possible health-related issues.
- Fit Feet (podiatry)
- FUNfitness (physical therapy)
- Health Promotion (nutrition, smoking cessation, sun safety)
- Healthy Hearing (audiology)
- MedFest (sports physicals, general checkups)**
- Opening Eyes (vision)
- Special Smiles (dental)
**Not currently offered in Saskatchewan
Special Olympics Saskatchewan currently offers six of the seven disciplines listed above in conjunction with our Provincial Games every two years.