The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program was developed in 1996 by Special Olympics International to improve and promote our athletes’ ability to train and compete in Special Olympics. Healthy Athletes is designed to educate athletes about healthy lifestyle choices, identify problems that may need follow-up and enhance their sports experience.
Medical professionals train to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities and attend training provided by Special Olympics International to become a Volunteer Healthy Athlete Clinician and Clinic Director. The volunteer clinical directors are experts in their field.
Special Olympics Utah currently offers six areas of health screenings: Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), Opening Eyes (vision) and Special Smiles (dentistry).
Special Olympics Utah is GRATEFUL to the volunteer medical professionals that donate their time to help the athletes of Special Olympics Utah lead healthier lives.
The objectives of the Healthy Athletes program include:
- To improve access and health care for Special Olympics athletes at events-based health screenings
- To train healthcare professionals and students of the healthcare professions about the needs and care of people with intellectual disabilities
- To make referrals to local health practitioners when appropriate
- 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 people with intellectual disabilities
- Provide opportunities for health care providers to gain skills related to working with diverse populations, including those with intellectual disabilities.
Globally, the Healthy Athletes program offers free health services and information to more than 1.4 million people with intellectual disabilities in more than 120 countries. It has become the largest global public health organization that is dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.