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.
With more than 1.6 million free health examinations conducted in more than 130 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. Over the years, Special Olympics health programs have improved the health of our athletes, and in many cases, profoundly changed–or saved–their lives.
Officially launched in 1997, Healthy Athletes organizes its events in a welcoming, fun environment. Its events educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow-up.
- Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive sub-standard care, or virtually no health care at all.
- Healthy Athletes has the world’s largest database of health data for people with intellectual disabilities.
- Through Healthy Athletes, more than 136,000 health care professionals have been trained to treat people with intellectual disabilities. These health care professionals provide improved care to millions. Special Olympics has given out more than 100,000 pairs of prescription eyeglasses to athletes who needed them.
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The Special Olympics Healthy Communities initiative takes the principles of the Healthy Athletes program and expands them from a series of single events to a steady presence in the lives of our athletes and their families that includes a focus on follow-up care, wellness opportunities, access and education. The Healthy Communities program is clearly demonstrating that health needs to remain a priority for the Special Olympics movement.
To address health-care disparities, Special Olympics has trained more than 136,000 health-care professionals and students, enabling them to return to their communities with increased knowledge of people with intellectual disabilities and a greater willingness to have them as patients. New partnerships have also been created with more than 200 organizations, universities and health-care providers at the local level.
Learn More About Healthy Communities.