What if you could help people who suffer needlessly from chronic pain and disease, blindness and hearing loss, shortened life span, and other health conditions? That's what we do every day!
Healthy Athletes® offers health services and information to athletes in need. In the process, we have become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.
Importance and Impact
Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities receive the same or better healthcare than others, they typically receive sub-standard care, or virtually no healthcare at all. As a result, people with intellectual disabilities are at an increased risk for poorer health and preventable health conditions. In fact, in a large study of Special Olympics athletes:
- 29% failed hearing tests
- 35% had untreated vision impairments
- 29% of males and 13% of females had below normal bone mineral density
- 50% had one or more foot diseases or conditions
- 37% have obvious, untreated tooth decay
What is Healthy Athletes®?
Healthy Athletes® is a Special Olympics program that provides free health screenings in a fun, welcoming environment that removes the anxiety people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a doctor or dentist. Officially launched in 1997, Healthy Athletes® screenings educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow-up referral. Healthy Athletes® not only serves athletes but also trains health care professionals who then go back to their practices with increased knowledge of and compassion for people with intellectual disabilities.
Healthy Athletes® currently offers health screenings in seven areas: Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision) and Special Smiles (dentistry).
Special Olympics Maine currently offers the following health screenings to its athletes at State Summer Games
How Can You Help?
Sponsor: provide financial support or facilities/clinics for Healthy Athletes screenings.
Become a Clinical (discipline) Director: attend a 2-3 day national training (at no cost, travel included) and make a 3 year commitment to Special Olympics Maine.
Volunteer: medical professionals are needed for screenings for all disciplines.
For More Information
To receive information on Healthy Athletes®, including how to get involved as an athlete, sponsor, volunteer, or healthcare provider, contact:
207-879-0489 x 11