Healthy Athletes changes the course for Special Olympians

Interactions with Special Olympics athletes lead to referrals back into the health care system.

In 1997, the creation of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program forever changed the course for health for individuals with intellectual disabilities around the globe.

Since its inception, Healthy Athletes has been providing free health screenings and education for people with intellectual disabilities in the fields of Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), Special Olympics-Lions Club International Opening Eyes (vision), Special Smiles (dentistry), and Strong Minds (mental training).

Through Healthy Athletes, health care professionals receive training about the specific health care concerns of people with intellectual disabilities and learn how to ask the right questions, helping to draw out issues. Their interactions with Special Olympics athletes lead to referrals back into the health care system that ensures the individuals will get the treatment they need.

RELATED: Pioneers build the foundation of Special Olympics

RELATED: Vernon’s Special Olympics BC Winter Games will be biggest ever

Since 1997, Healthy Athletes has delivered more than two million free health screenings globally and distributed more than 110,000 free pairs of prescription eyewear. Special Olympics now maintains the largest dataset on the health of people with intellectual disabilities.

Through data collected, we can now see that people with intellectual disabilities, worldwide and right here in Canada, face significant health challenges largely stemming from a lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and inadequate access to quality health care.

It is for this reason that Special Olympics is so focused on providing opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to get involved in a sport. With the right supports and opportunities, people with intellectual disabilities can live longer, healthier lives.

From Feb. 21 to 23, 2019, Greater Vernon will play host to the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games. These Games are much more than just a sporting event. They provide the motivation for many individuals with intellectual disabilities to train year-round in their community.

Coaches will encourage athletes to eat better so that they can perform better, and they will work with athletes on living a healthier lifestyle.

There will also be Healthy Athlete Screenings offered at the Games. Anyone with an intellectual disability, whether an athlete competing in the Games or someone who is not currently registered in a Special Olympics program, can access these health screenings at the Games for free.

The Games in Greater Vernon are important: not just to see who can win a gold, silver, or bronze medal, but as a catalyst for better health. Visit www.sobcgamesvernon.ca for information on how you can get involved, or to learn more about the Games.

Just Posted

Rock slide forces rural Keremeos residents to leave their homes

Witness describes boulders bigger than her car

Army of support behind Morning Star saleswoman battling cancer

GoFundMe helps empower Sue Folliott’s fight

Okanagan College to develop wellness strategy for drug use

The Kelowna campus has 28 employees trained in the use of naloxone.

Vernon Falcons soar to season-ending bronze

Vernon Minor Hockey female atom division squad loses semifinal nail-biter at Kelowna tourney

Vernon councillor wins award for efforts to end racism

Vernon city councillor Dalvir Nahal received the award for her work to increase awareness of the Sikh culture and history, by breaking down cultural barriers in the Okanagan to fight racism.

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

UPDATE: Destructive blaze in West Kelowna

A unit of a condo complex is on fire in West Kelowna

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

AquaVan comes to Okanagan Science Centre

200-litre mobile touch tank allows you to get up-close with marine invertebrates

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

No joke: Kelowna’s first zero-waste grocery store to open April 1

Farm Bound Zero Waste has announced its opening date

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Most Read