The mission of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes®, developed in 1996 by Special Olympics International, is to improve athletes’ ability to train and compete in Special Olympics. Healthy Athletes is designed to help Special Olympics athletes improve their health and fitness, leading to enhanced sports experience and improved well-being.
- To improve access and health care for Special Olympics athletes at event-based health screenings
- To make referrals to local health practitioners when appropriate
- To train healthcare professionals and students in the health professions about the needs and care of people with intellectual disabilities
- 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 persons with intellectual disabilities
Healthy Community is a premier, health care delivery approach that focuses on the whole person with an intellectual or developmental disability and provides integrated health care coordination that includes primary health care.
Good health is necessary for persons with an intellectual or developmental disability to secure the freedom to work, learn, and engage in their families and communities. The United States Surgeon General stated, “Individuals with a developmental disability are more likely to receive inappropriate and inadequate treatment, or be denied health care altogether. Children, youth, and adults with developmental disabilities receive fewer routine health examinations, fewer immunizations, less mental health care, less prophylactic oral health care, and fewer opportunities for physical exercise and athletic achievement than do other Americans. Those with communication difficulties are especially at greater risk for poor nutrition, overmedication, injury, and abuse.” Special Olympics International created Healthy Community in response to the U.S. Surgeon General call to action on the health care disparities for people with an intellectual or developmental disability.