Special Olympics is the world’s largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities, providing access to free health services for a population with significant, unmet health needs. Often, those with intellectual disabilities and their families don’t understand what is needed to optimize their health. Healthy Athletes provides accessible information, resources, systems and policies at the individual, community, national and global levels that support them in realizing sustainable healthy and productive lives. Special Olympics Arizona Healthy Athletes is dedicated to providing health screenings and education to our athletes while changing the way future health professionals interact with people with intellectual disabilities.
In 2016, Special Olympics Arizona was recognized as a Healthy Community and joined a community with over 21,825 healthcare professionals and students to provide ongoing, community-based care for patients with intellectual disabilities. Healthy Communities is a model Special Olympics Health program made possible by the Golisano Foundation and addresses the severe health disparities faced by people with intellectual disabilities through immediate and long-term solutions.
What We Do
Special Olympics Healthy Athletes provides free health exams in a fun, welcoming environtment that removes the anixety that often accompanies a visit to a doctor ro dentist. More than 1.4 million free health examps have been given to Special Olympics Athletes to date.
Special Olympics health programs not only serves athletes but also trains health care professionals. After working with Healthy Athletes, these decidated professionals go back to their practices with increased knowledge of and compassion for people with intellectual disabilities.
Why It Matters
- 37% have obvious untreated tooth decay
- 37% need new prescription eyewear
- 23% have low bone density
- 26% failed hearing tests
- 48% have at least one skin or nail condition
- 59% of adult and 30% of youth athletes are overweight or obese
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), despite the severe need and higher health risk, people with intellectual disabilities are denied health servicees, community interventions, and there is a lack of targeted interventions and programs for the population. Health care professinoals who volunteer with Special Olympics have found that Special Olympics athletes are at increased risk of secondary health issues.
- Fit Feet
- Healthy Hearing
- Health Promotion
- Opening Eyes
- Special Smiles
- Strong Minds
- Healthy Lifestyles
Fit Feet is a podiatric screening designed to evaluate athlete and partner's feet, ankles and lower extremity biomechanics for deformities and abnormalities. Fit Feet also educates participants on proper shoes and socks for both competition and everyday life.
- Dertmatoloigc Evaluation
- Neurologic Evaluation
- Musculoskeletal Evaluation
- Biomechanical Evaluation
- Gait Evaluation
FUNfitness is a physical therapy screening designed to assess and improve physical strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic fitness of athletes and partners. Physical therapists provide information to the participants on the importance of becoming and staying physically fit as well as at-home exercises to improve their physical well-being.
Healthy Hearing is an audiological screening designed to test the hearing of athletes and to provide corrective (hearing aids) and preventative (custom swim earplugs) services when needed.
- Ear Canal Examination
- Test for Hearing Impairement
- Middle Ear Screening
- Pure Tone Screening
- Noise Protection
Health Promotion is a general health screening designed to convey and reinforce key health concepts and health information. Health Promotion offers health information and advice for nutrition, sun safety, bone density and health, tobacco cessation and general physical fitness by using interactive educational games and literature.
- Nutrition and Hydration
- Bone Health
- Sun Safety
- Tobacco Avoidance and Cessation
- Physical Activity
Opening Eyes is an optometry screening designed to improve the quality of life for athletes and partners by optimizing their vision, eye health and visual skills through quality eye care. Opening Eyes provide eye care education along with prescription eyewear, sunglasses and sport goggles when needed.
- Vision Check
- Color Vision Check
- 3-D Vision Check
- Eye Alignment and Muscle Movement Check
- Eye Pressure Check
- Total Eye Evaluation
Special Smiles is a dental screening designed to assess oral health and provide instructional and educational tools for dental and oral care, such as, brushing and flossing properly. For some multi-day events, Special Smiles is able to offer screenings on day one, with immediate on-site follow-up care and treatment on day two.
- Check In
- Dental Exam
- Hygiene Station
- Mouthguard Fitting
- Special Smiles Goody Bag
Strong Minds provides a psychosocial screening and skill training that focuses on the athlete and partners' mental health and wellness. The screening identifies emotional and/or behavioral barriers which impact the athlete or partners' training, competition and post- competition experiences. Techniques are taught to help athletes prepare mentally for competition and control negative emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Unique to Arizona, Healthy Lifestyles teaches athletes and partners about the importance of personal hygiene, grooming and how to present themselves in a tidy, professional manner. Members of the Athlete Input Council discuss personal care and etiquette with each participant. Healthy Lifestyles are able to provide educational materials and on-site haircuts at no cost.