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Healthy Athletes Resources

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.


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Healthy Athletes’ influence is evident with more than 136,000 healthcare professionals trained, free health examinations provided to more than 1.6 million athletes, and 100,000 free pairs of eyeglasses given to athletes. Healthy Athletes continues to grow each year with help from a global network of volunteers, in-kind donations and other financial support. Healthy Athletes is part of Special Olympics' global health program.

For more information, contact Karl Hejlik, (khejlik@specialolympics.org), Director of Internal Communications.


Healthy Athletes News and Stories


March 27, 2017 | Africa: Kenya

Free Cataract Surgery from Lions Club for Kenya’s Goal Keeper at World Winter Games 2017

By Romi Reinecke

Lawrence only grew into the champion he is now since joining Special Olympics Kenya.

The goal keeper of Special Olympics Kenya’s Floor Hockey team has kept them on top of their division. But no one knew 16-year-old Lawrence Mwangi had been achieving such greatness on the sports field despite having cataracts.View Story The goal keeper of Special Olympics Kenya’s Floor Hockey team has kept them on top of their division. But no one knew that 16-year-old Lawrence Mwangi had been achieving such greatness on the sports field despite having cataracts. He was diagnosed in a Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes screening at the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria by Adib Jaber, the regional clinical advisor for Special Olympics Middle-East North Africa (MENA) region. Adib has been volunteering with Special Olympics Lebanon for over 14 years. Lawrence only grew into the champion he is now since joining Special Olympics Kenya. When his mother discovered he had an intellectual disability, she was devastated and could not stop blaming herself. This affected Lawrence, and he did not know if he was good at anything. But through sports he discovered he had athletic talent, focus, and was a team player with a specialty in goal-keeping. And now, with better vision thanks to Special Olympics volunteers, there is no telling what else this talented young man will achieve.

About Romi Reinecke:I work in communications for Special Olympics in Africa.
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March 27, 2017 | Africa: South Africa

Celebrating World Optometry Day with Special Olympics South Africa

By Faith Chabedi

Recipients of Certificates of Participation

On 23rd March 2017, 40 students at University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa celebrated World Optometry Day by attending a presentation on "Making Optometry Inclusive".View Story On 23 March 2017, 40 students at University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa celebrated World Optometry Day by attending a presentation on "Making Optometry Inclusive". The address was presented by Faith Chabedi from Special Olympics and explained the need to train optometry students to assess people with intellectual disability and to promote the involvement of students in Healthy Athletes screenings annually. By so doing, the institution would produce graduates who are equipped to help reduce health disparities for people with ID. Faith suggested that the training should include at least a module covering modification of test protocol and how to effectively communicate with people with ID. The students and staff were receptive to the idea and called for more presentations to other students in April.

About Faith Chabedi:I am the manager of Partnerships for Inclusive Health (Africa and Asia Pacific Region), in the GDGR departmnent. I have been a Specail Olympics Volunteer since 2002. I served as a clinical director and an RCA for Opening Eyes. I joined SO staff in September 2016.
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March 23, 2017 | Asia Pacific: Bangladesh

Youngest Member of Bangladesh Team Takes Silver

By Genevieve Jiang

Mohammad Junaet Islam (in front) is going home with a silver medal in floor hockey.

At 15, Mohammad Junaet Islam is the youngest member of the Bangladesh men’s floor hockey team. When coaches first met him more than two years ago, he was severely hunched, with a curved spine condition that caused posture imbalance, and a condition that caused his eyelids to droop.View Story At 15, Mohammad Junaet Islam is the youngest member of the Bangladesh men’s floor hockey team. When coaches first met him more than two years ago, he was severely hunched, with a curved spine condition that caused posture imbalance, and a condition that caused his eyelids to droop. He struggled to walk straight or even run and couldn’t see beyond several meters in front of him. Through Healthy Athletes, they corrected his posture through regular therapy. His eye condition also improved. He joined bocce and badminton but has never taken part in any competitions. This is his first time at the World Games, and it has been an unforgettable experience. Junaet is going home with a silver medal in floor hockey. His coach and mentor Hossain Mobarak says Junaet's greatest strength is his hunger to succeed. "He is willing to learn and try any game. He has tried football, cricket and now floor hockey. It has been challenging for him to learn but he has never given up."

About Genevieve Jiang:I am a Senior Manager, Communications and Development, Special Olympics Asia Pacific
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Healthy Athletes Events


Date

Event

Location

Jul 10 - 12 2017

Special Olympics Nordrhein-Westfalen Regional Games 2017

From the 10-12 July 2017, the Special Olympics Nordrhein-Westfalen Regional Games will be hosted in Neuss near the river Rhine. About 1000 athletes are expected to compete in 12 different of sports (athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, equestrian, football, golf, judo, roller skating, swimming, and table tennis). There will also be a big opening ceremony, 4 healthy athletes disciplines (Fit Feet, Health Promotion, Fun Fitness and Strong Minds) and MATP. It will be lots of fun! So, if you are nearby, come around and enjoy the games with us!
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