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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


September 15, 2016 | SOI General: Headquarters

Philanthropist Tom Golisano and Special Olympics Launch Global Health Leadership Awards

By Christy Weir

Tom Golisano, Founder of the Golisano Foundation, and Ann Costello, Executive Director, visit a Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes clinic in Florida.

The Golisano Health Leadership Awards recognize individuals and organizations around the world who are improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities.View Story Special Olympics has launched the Golisano Health Leadership Awards to recognize the extensive work of individuals and organizations around the world who are improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities and advancing the year-round health work of Special Olympics. The awards will honor approximately 32 individuals or organizations around the world where Healthy Communities, the innovative global initiative launched by Special Olympics in 2012 and expanded in 2015 with gifts of $37 million from philanthropist and Paychex Chairman Tom Golisano, has been launched. Healthy Communities have been launched from Paraguay to Romania, South Africa to Thailand and Golisano’s home states of Florida and New York. Of those honorees, 7 recipients from Special Olympics‘ 7 regions around the world, will be selected to receive the global award, which will be announced at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria in March 2017. “The Golisano Health Leadership Award is Special Olympics highest honor for health partners and individuals,” said Mary Davis, Special Olympics CEO. “It is important to recognize the growing number of health champions at the community, regional and global levels who are working so tirelessly to promote inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities. We also hope to encourage others who are in a position to do the same and help us raise global understanding of the health disparities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities. Through the growth and success of Healthy Communities, the Golisano name is becoming synonymous with improving health disparities and increasing access to quality care - from remote towns to major cities in all corners of the world.“ To read more about the significance of these awards, please read a Huffington Post blog from Ann Costello, Executive Director for the Golisano Foundation at the link below.

About Christy Weir:I am the Director of Global Media and Public Relations for Special Olympics.
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September 07, 2016 | North America: District of Columbia

Special Olympics Wisconsin and Partners Keep Athletes Smiling

By Charita Boseman

Special Smiles can make a huge difference in the lives of Special Olympics athletes.View Story The Special Smiles program can make a huge difference in the lives of Special Olympics athletes. At a recent event in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Dental Association partnered with Special Olympics to help athletes with urgent dental needs get the caring attention they deserve.

About Charita Boseman:Special Olympics Special Smiles Manager Submitting on behalf of Special Olympics Wisconsin
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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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