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 Kathleen Palermo, (kpalermo@specialolympics.org), Department Administrator and Program Manger, Health.


Healthy Athletes News and Stories


July 27, 2015 | SOI General: Headquarters

Whose Life Will be Saved This Week?

By Karl Hejlik

With those words, 2015 World Games Global Messenger Dustin Plunkett helped open the Healthy Athletes venue where thousands of athletes will receive free health exams and follow-up care this week.View Story With those words, 2015 World Games Global Messenger Dustin Plunkett helped open the Healthy Athletes venue where thousands of athletes will receive free health exams and follow-up care this week. Joined by Special Olympics and Games leadership and corporate partners who support Healthy Athletes, Dustin's voice cracked with emotion as he told his personal story of having his life saved when oral cancer was detected in his gums at a Healthy Athletes event years ago. This event is what makes Dustin such a strong advocate for Special Olympics and Healthy Athletes. Over the course of World Games, Special Olympics expects to provide as many as 15,000 health exams.

About Karl Hejlik:I am Director, Internal Communications
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June 25, 2015 | North America: Montana

Special Olympics and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation Team Up

By Mary Pittaway

Special Olympics is working with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to spread messaging about physical activity and healthy living.

Special Olympics is partnering with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, an organization in the United States focused on reducing obesity—especially childhood obesity.View Story Special Olympics is partnering with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), an organization whose national (U.S.) effort focuses on reducing obesity—especially childhood obesity. In just five years, HWCF members have removed 6.4 trillion calories from the marketplace, representing a 78 calorie reduction per person, per day. The coalition brings together over 300 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, sporting goods and insurance companies, trade associations, nongovernmental organizations, and professional sports organizations. HWCF promotes ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance—calories in and calories out. Special Olympics recently was featured in the Together Counts campaign that focuses on families and schools.

About Mary Pittaway:Global Clinical Advisor, Health Promotion, Special Olympics, Inc.
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June 16, 2015 | SOI General: Headquarters

Healthy Athletes Making a Big Impact for Thousands of Athletes During Summer Games

By Heather Harmer

Athletes in Maryland were able to receive bone density screening during Health Promotion. People with intellectual disabilities are far more

All across North America, programs are busy hosting Summer Games competitions. Along with the sporting events, Healthy Athletes screenings have been at the forefront of the competitions. It's expected that more than 35,000 athletes from North America will be screened during May and June alone.View Story All across North America, programs are busy hosting Summer Games competitions. Along with the sporting events, Healthy Athletes screenings have been at the forefront of the competitions. It's expected that more than 35,000 athletes from North America will be screened during May and June alone. During Summer Games, Special Olympics Michigan celebrates the accomplishments of their Healthy Athletes program by selecting a Healthy Athlete of the Year. This year's winner was Ben Dornoff who credits Healthy Athletes with helping him led a healthier lifestyle. In Maryland, athletes and their families were excited about the bone density screenings during Health Promotion. People with intellectual disabilities have a far greater risk of osteoporosis then people without disabilities. However this screening is not widely available during an athlete's physical. Thanks to the volunteers; both the clinical and students who give their time and talents to providing free screening.

About Heather Harmer:Heather Harmer is the Senior Manager for Healthy Athletes in North America.
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