In order for athletes to perform at their best, both on and off the playing field, we believe promoting a healthy life style to our athletes is critical to their success. The Healthy Athletes program is dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes, and changing the way health systems interact with people with intellectual disabilities. All screenings are free to the athletes and occur at specific competitions.
On a typical team of 10 athletes:
9 will have problems with flexibility or balance
7 will be overweight or obese
4 have untreated tooth decay
4 need eyeglasses
3 would fail a hearing test
1 needs an urgent referral to a dentist
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), despite the severe need and higher health risk, people with intellectual disabilities are denied health services, community interventions, and there is a lack of targeted interventions and programs for the population. Health care professionals who volunteer with Special Olympics have found that Special Olympics athletes are at increased risk of secondary health issues.
Special Olympics Health is made possible by the Golisano Foundation in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.