According to a study done by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults with disabilities are 3 times more likely to have heart disease, strokes, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities. Additionally, the United States Surgeon General pointed out that people with disabilities often receive sub-par health care. The free medical screenings provided at the Special Olympics Healthy Community cannot only help detect small health problems before they get worse but are also an easy alternative to the lacking health care available to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
At Special Olympics Florida Healthy Community site in South Florida, athletes can expect to be screened in 6 disciplines/areas: Healthy Hearing (Audiology), Special Smiles (dentistry), Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), and MedFest (sports physical/medical exam). Athletes can also expect to receive timely referrals/resources for follow-up care and care coordination by our passionate team of professionals and volunteers.
Individuals may also participate in the Healthy Community wellness program, a comprehensive health program designed to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities develop and maintain a high level of wellbeing through health education, proper diet, light exercises, stress management, and disease prevention/management. One of the most popular programs is an 8- 10 week nutrition and wellness course that offers weekly nutrition education and physical activity sessions such as Zumba, light aerobics, chair exercises, walking clubs and floor exercises & stretching.
Special Olympics Florida knows that good health is necessary for every athlete who wants to compete and feel their best. Imagine how difficult it would be to run in a race when your feet hurt, or to score a free-throw when you can’t see the basket? Many athletes who have received services are leading healthier lives because of screenings they’ve received at Special Olympics Florida Healthy Community, including Claudia and Clifton.
Following a Healthy Hearing screening, Claudia, who will travel to New Jersey this summer to compete in the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games, received a free hearing aid. Excited to compete and hear all of the applause she said, “Now I get to hear everything that’s going on at USA Games while I compete in bowling.” Another athlete, Clifton, felt pride in his healthy smile after receiving a long-awaited dental cleaning, sharing that “My teeth feel so clean – I should get a certificate for clean teeth.”
Hundreds of health care professionals and student volunteer their time to athletes, so it’s no surprise that volunteers have been the backbone of Healthy Community since its birth in February 2013. Today, they are as central as ever to all of our activities.
We hope that you’ll become part of Special Olympics Florida Healthy Community by taking advantage of our free health screenings or by becoming a volunteer as we work together to support some of our community’s most vulnerable individuals.