Healthy Communities

Healthy Athletes Header LogoSpecial Olympics Builds Healthy and Inclusive Communities
We continuously work to strengthen the training and competitive experience of each Special Olympics athlete by promoting inclusive and healthy communities that create an environment of dignity and support the athlete’s health, fitness, and quality of life.

We believe people with intellectual disabilities deserve full access to quality healthcare.

We are creating a culture of inclusion and acceptance that will dramatically impact the health of our athletes and others intellectual disabilities.


What is Healthy Athletes?

Healthy Athletes is a program developed to improve athlete’s health and fitness, leading to better sports experiences and improved well-being. At select Special Olympics events, we offer free health screenings, providing free care when possible and making referrals to local practitioners when appropriate.

At more than 1.4 million free health screening clinics in more than 100 countries, the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program offers health services and information to athletes in dire need. In the process, Special Olympics has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.

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Mission
The mission of Healthy Athletes is to improve the athlete’s health and fitness levels in order to increase the athlete’s ability to train and compete in Special Olympics.

Cost
The Healthy Athletes initiative is free to all athletes.

Benefits
Beyond screenings, Healthy Athletes also educates healthcare professionals about the needs and care of people with intellectual disabilities, too often a population underserved by the medical community. Information gathered at events is valuable when planning programs, gaining support and improving policies.

Requirements
Any Special Olympics New York Athlete can participate in the Healthy Athletes initiative.

Who is a Clinical Director?

  • Licensed professional
  • Proven interest of service
  • Member of or active in local/state/national professional organization
  • Geographic accessibility to program activities
  • Demonstrated leadership abilities
  • Volunteer commitment of 3 years for Program Clinical Director

 

How to Become a Clinical Director:
Health Care Professionals who are interested in becoming a Healthy Athlete Clinical Director are asked to contact Onolee Stephan at ostephan@specialolympics.org

Following the initial communications, interested parties will be asked to attend a Train-the-Trainer workshop in their respective disciplines.

Role of Clinical Director:

  • Oversee 2-3 events annually that may take one to two days each
  • Work with a group of state or regional clinical advisors and Special Olympics New York staff to develop or locate appropriate education materials, equipment and supplies needed for an event
  • Recruit/train screening volunteers for venue
  • Supervise the venue
  • Participate within Healthy Athletes team, working with the coordinators of other disciplines in the planning capacity sharing of the venue
  • Continue to seek opportunities and partnerships for Healthy Athletes activities

Clinical Director Job Descriptions:

Special Olympics Builds Healthy and Inclusive Communities
We continuously work to strengthen the training and competitive experience of each Special Olympics athlete by promoting inclusive and healthy communities that create an environment of dignity and support the athlete’s health, fitness, and quality of life.

Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive sub-standard care or in some cases no healthcare at all.

We believe people with intellectual disabilities deserve full access to quality healthcare.

Healthy Communities:

  • Healthy Athletes screenings in New York have shown that:
  • 81% of our adult athletes are overweight or obese
  • 42% need new prescription eye glasses
  • 34% fail Puretone hearing screenings
  • 22% have untreated tooth decay

We are creating a culture of inclusion and acceptance that will dramatically impact the health of our athletes and others with ID.

In September 2012, B. Thomas Golisano committed $12 million to Special Olympics International to extend the scope and reach of health programming. Special Olympics New York’s Genesee Region was one of fourteen Special Olympics Programs worldwide selected to implement Healthy Communities.

Vision:
Communities where Special Olympics athletes and others with ID:

  • Have the same access to health and wellness resources
  • Can attain the same level of good health as all community members
  • Where there is no “wrong door” for someone with ID to walk through and seek care

Good health is necessary for persons with ID to secure the freedom to work, learn, and engage in their families and communities.  Yet, people with ID are more likely to live with complex health conditions, have limited access to quality health care and health promotion programs, miss health screenings, have poorly managed chronic conditions, and become obese.

Healthy Communities was created in response to the U.S. Surgeon General call to action on the health care disparities for people with an intellectual or developmental disability. “Individuals with a developmental disability are more likely to receive inappropriate and inadequate treatment, or be denied health care altogether.  Children, youth, and adults with developmental disabilities receive fewer routine health examinations, fewer immunizations, less mental health care, less prophylactic oral health care, and fewer opportunities for physical exercise and athletic achievement than do other Americans.  Those with communication difficulties are especially at greater risk for poor nutrition, over-medication, injury, and abuse.”  – U.S. Surgeon General

Driving It Local: Healthy Communities in New York:
New York’s Genesee Region was chosen as the pilot site for Healthy Communities in New York. This three year demonstration project focuses on healthy weight, dental health, and using technology to broaden impact.