Though conditions vary for people with intellectual disabilities worldwide, many have little or no access to healthcare that could drastically improve or even save their lives. Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® is the world’s largest public health program for people with intellectual disabilities, delivering basic levels of health information and care to thousands of people each year.
At Special Olympics events, Healthy Athletes® offers free screenings in several areas – vision, hearing, dental and fitness assessments – providing free care when possible and making referrals to local practitioners when appropriate. So far, the program has conducted more than 700,000 screenings in nearly 90 countries. For some athletes, the screenings are the first time they have ever seen a doctor.
Beyond screenings, Healthy Athletes® also trains healthcare professionals about the needs and care of people with intellectual disabilities. In Virginia, the following Healthy Athletes® initiatives are offered:FUNfitness®
Physical therapists assess and record information about flexibility, functional strength and balance. They test flexibility of the hamstring, calf, anterior hip and shoulder rotator muscles, functional strength of the abdominal and leg muscles, and balance. Healthy Hearing
Trained audiologists screen athletes for hearing problems and will alert the athlete to any hearing loss. Opening Eyes
Doctors complete eye exams and provide athletes with a free pair of prescription eyeglasses or designer sunglasses upon completion of their screening. Special Smiles
Dentists and hygienists provide one-on-one instruction on proper tooth brushing techniques, an oral health screening using tongue blades and flashlights (no treatment is given), and information on the value of nutrition in maintaining good oral health.
For more information on Healthy Athletes®, including how to get involved as an athlete, sponsor, volunteer or healthcare provider, e-mail Dave Pawlowski
, Vice President of Program, or call him at 804.726.3034 or 800.932.4653 x3034.