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 Lynn Erickson, (lerickson@specialolympics.org), Department Administrator and Program Manger, Health.


Healthy Athletes News and Stories


July 25, 2016 | Europe Eurasia: Netherlands

Biggest National Games Ever in the Netherlands

By Rachel Richardson

Crossing the finish with a cheer during the National Games in the Netherlands | Credits: Rachelle Photography

The biggest National Games ever have been held in the Netherlands!View Story The biggest National Games ever have been held in the Netherlands! From the 1st till the 3rd of July, 2,400 athletes and 800 coaches were active in the cities Nijmegen, Wijchen en Groesbeek, where the National Games were held. In previous years the number didn’t exceed 2,000 athletes. However, due to the growth in athletes in general, three newly introduced Special Olympics sports in the Netherlands (basketball, bocce and golf) and larger accommodations during the National Games, this amount was surpassed. The Games Organizing Committee of the National Games also created a unique side-event: a walk along all the venues of the National Games. This attracted 850 people with an intellectual disability, who had the choice to march 2.5km, 5km or 10km. An easy and active way to visit the venues! This meant that a total of more than 3,200 people with an intellectual disability were active during the first weekend of July in the Netherlands! On Friday, all the athletes arrived in the Special Olympics Village, where most of them were accommodated. The Opening Ceremony was on Friday evening in a football stadium nearby. After the Parade of Athletes and all the other formalities, it was time for an unforgettable show of one of the top entertainers in the Netherlands: Frans Bauer. He got everyone up and dancing and made sure that the rainy weather was forgotten. On Saturday (divisioning) and Sunday (finals), it was time for the athletes to get active! There were 18 sports on the program, which all went according to plan. On Saturday evening it was time for a party in the Special Olympics Village, where the athletes danced the night away. Those who didn’t fancy dancing or wanted a break from the dancing, were able to visit Healthy Athletes, which was also accommodated in the Special Olympics Village. It was a weekend for the athletes which they won’t forget any time soon!

About Rachel Richardson:I'm responsible for the all communications regarding Special Olympics Netherlands.
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May 31, 2016 | Europe Eurasia: Romania

Mother and son serve as valuable role models for athletes and their families in Romania

By By Martha Jo Braycich

Andrei Cupsa and his mother, Liliana

Andrei Cupsa and his mother, Liliana, stay busy. He's an athlete and a trainer. She's a dentist and a Special Olympics clinical director.View Story Andrei Cupsa and his mother, Liliana, lead full lives. Liliana, a single parent, has a dental practice in Baia-Mare, Romania and is the Health Promotion Clinical Director for Special Olympics Romania. Andrei, 21, who became a Special Olympics athlete when he was 14, is a Young Athletes trainer for a group of eight children he works with every Tuesday. He also volunteers every day at a day care center for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Andrei finds time to train four times a week in swimming and fitness. If that’s not enough activity, he skis, rides horses and helps around the house. An only child, Andrei spends summers with his grandfather in the countryside where they engage in what his mother called “manly pursuits.” When he started as a Young Athletes trainer earlier this year Andrei wasn’t sure how the children would react. But the children soon came to love him as he took them by the hand and guided them through the routines. “We all move together,” he said, describing his approach as relaxed. His easy-going attitude works at the day-care center too where children who do not want to go to speech therapy go willingly if Andrei takes them. Andrei graduated from an inclusive private school where his mother was very active, ensuring that other students and parents were accepting of her son. “Andrei grew up to be self-confident and capable. He is a role model for other children with intellectual disabilities and their parents,” said Liliana.

About By Martha Jo Braycich:Martha Jo Braycich is Senior Director, Community Impact Initiatives, Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia.
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May 13, 2016 | SOI: Europe-Eurasia

First Family Health Forum in Greece Makes a Difference

By Martha Jo Braycich

Families at the Special Olympics Hellas (Greece) national games went home with medals, ribbons and new health knowledge.View Story Families at the Special Olympics Hellas (Greece) national games went home with medals, ribbons and new health knowledge. Hellas held its first Family Health Forum during the Games in Loutraki from 18-21 April 2016. “We learned a lot about how to be more proactive about healthy eating, in particular," said Panagiotis Daradimos, who attended with his wife, Maria Kalantzi. "We want our son, Charalambos, 21, to feel better and to be happy. I think we are on the right track. But we need more information sessions like this forum.” The forum was attended by 160 family members who came from all over Greece. The forum was moderated by Ms. Victoria Tousi, Special Olympics Hellas family coordinator. Keynote speak Anna Papatziala-Sitzani provided an overview of the importance of good nutrition and diet in a family setting. She heads the nutrition and dietary department at the Metaxa Hospital in Piraeus. Keynote speaker Zaharis Panagiotis from the Hellenic Red Cross provided important health and safety tips. Both presentations prompted lively discussion among participants. The Family Health Forum was co-funded by the Health Program of the European Union with support from the Hellenic Red Cross and the Lions’ Clubs.

About Martha Jo Braycich:Martha Jo Braycich is Senior Director, Community Impact Initiatives, Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia.
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