The mission of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes, developed in 1996 by Special Olympics International, is to improve athletes’ ability to train and compete in Special Olympics. Healthy Athletes is designed to help Special Olympics athletes improve their health and fitness, leading to enhanced sports experience and improved well-being. Healthy Athletes offers exams in six disciplines, including Fit Feet FUNFitness (Physical Therapy), Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes, and Special Smiles.
Special Olympics Fit Feet is a free podiatric screening for participating Special Olympics athletes evaluating ankles, feet, lower extremity biomechanics, and proper shoe and sock gear. In partnership with the International Federation of Podiatrists (FIP) and the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, Fit Feet also provides referrals for those participating Special Olympics that require follow up services.
Special Olympics FUNfitness is a physical therapy screening program that is designed to assess and improve physical strength, flexibility, balance, and aerobic fitness, educate athletes and parents on the importance of becoming and staying physically fit, and provide a hands-on opportunity for participating Special Olympics athletes to learn more about physical therapy. FUNfitness is directed by volunteer physical therapists that assess and provide referral for athletes needing either physical therapy rehabilitative or fitness programming services.
Special Olympics Health Promotion is a free screening that offers health information and advice in the areas of nutrition, sun safety, bone density, tobacco cessation, and physical fitness. Health Promotion is designed to convey and reinforce key concepts on healthy living, healthy lifestyle choices, and nation-specific health issues.
Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program is a free hearing screening designed to ensure proper audiological care for participating Special Olympics athletes. Led by volunteer professionals, Healthy Hearing also provides tests for cerumen (ear wax) and otoacoustic emissions tests.
The Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program is a vision and eye health screening in partnership with the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Led by volunteer vision care professionals, Opening Eyes is able to offer prescription eyewear, sunglasses, and sports goggles to Special Olympics athletes.
Special Olympics Special Smiles offers free dental screening, oral health information, and instructions on brushing and flossing properly to participating Special Olympics athletes, as well as preventative supplies like toothpaste and toothbrushes. Athletes who require follow up dental services are referred to local oral health professionals.
Strong Minds is an interactive learning activity focused on developing adaptive coping skills. Competition provides a natural opportunity to develop active strategies for maintaining emotional wellness under stress, such as: thinking positive thoughts, releasing stress and connecting with others. Athletes learn about and try a few different active coping strategies as they move through the stations. Before exiting, athletes identify the strategies they like best and volunteers provide them with visual reminders to use these tools in competition and in daily life.
- To improve access and health care for Special Olympics athletes at event-based health exams
- To make referrals to local health practitioners when appropriate
- To train healthcare professionals and students in the health professions about the needs and care of people with intellectual disabilities
- To collect, analyze and disseminate data on the health status and needs of people with intellectual disabilities
- To advocate for improved health policies and programs for persons with intellectual disabilities
To offer exams at all major state and area competitions. Exams are best served when it is closer to the athlete’s home so a local referral can be made. Louisiana needs a minimum of 6 volunteer clinical directors for each discipline. We could do many more exams if we had more clinical directors to oversee clinics in their geographic locations!
If you are a medical professional or affiliated with a medical facility or medical/dental training institution and would like to assist with the Healthy Athletes program, please contact us today!
What 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
Role of Clinical Director
- Attend a one day Train-the-Trainer workshop, followed by a practical experience the next day at a Special Olympics Louisiana competition (Friday and/or Saturday activity)
- Recruit/train volunteers for venue
- Work with a group of state or regional clinical advisors and Special Olympics Louisiana staff to develop or locate appropriate education materials, equipment and supplies needed for an event
- Responsible for working with state or county Special Olympics Louisiana program leaders
- Supervise the venue
- Recruit computer savvy volunteers to enter exam data onsite
- Report data to Special Olympics Louisiana
- Evaluate event
- Continue to seek opportunities and partnerships for Healthy Athletes activities
- Participate within Healthy Athletes team, working with the coordinators of other disciplines in the planning capacity sharing of the venue
- Oversee 2-3 events annually that may take one to two days each
Contact Us if you are interested in becoming a Clinical Director.