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Healthy Athletes

In addition to various sport events during the 2011 SOWSG, the Special Olympics athletes will participate in an important non-sports program - the Healthy Athletes Program.

Established in 1996, the program is designed to improve athletes' health and fitness in order to enhance their ability to train and compete in Special Olympics. 7,500 Special Olympics athletes from over 185 countries and regions around the world will receive health examination -free of charge- at the HELEXPO PALACE in Athens and will be provided with health-related advice that will help them develop good living habits and improve their own health situation.

From June 26 through July 4, health screenings will be conducted in a welcoming and fun environment and numerous medical professionals and students will receive professional and strict Special Olympics training for this initiative. Consequently, more medical professionals will come to understand the health needs and abilities of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and provide appropriate care in the future.

 

The Healthy Athletes Program is made up of six disciplines including Fit Feet, Fun Fitness, Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes® and Special Smiles®.

 

Fit Feet

Many Special Olympics athletes suffer from foot and ankle pain or deformities that impair their performance. In addition, athletes are not always fitted with the best shoes and socks for their particular sport.
Fit Feet was developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine to evaluate and screen foot and ankle deformities of athletes and to provide education in proper footwear and care of the feet and toes.
rredd@specialolympics.org.

FUNfitness

During a FUNfitness screening, volunteer physical therapists, assistants, and students assess the flexibility and functional strength of Special Olympics athletes' muscles as well as overall balance. The program also provides "take-away" educational materials for Special Olympics athletes and information for families and coaches about the importance of and methods to improve flexibility, functional strength and balance in sports performance and activities of daily living.

 

Healthy Hearing

Reduced hearing can have a significant negative impact upon a Special Olympics athlete's ability to respond to directions in training, as well as understand other oral information from coaches, trainers, and judges. The safety of the athlete also can be impeded by hearing loss, as can the athlete's interpersonal relationships. Screening of hearing is the first step in the process of identifying an athlete's hearing loss and preventing its negative effects from occurring in sporting and social events.Healthy Hearing provides a screening for the athletes, and notifies athletes and their coaches if follow-up care is needed. This program also provides corrective (hearing aids) and preventative (custom swim earplugs) services where possible, and studies the prevalence of hearing loss in athletes competing in Special Olympics events.

 

Health Promotion

Health Promotion focuses on educating athletes about healthy lifestyles and the facilitation of healthy choices. Because people with intellectual disabilities frequently have medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, and tend to develop these conditions at earlier stages of life, Health Promotion mainly focuses on nutrition and exercise, as well as bone health, smoking cessation and sun safety using interactive educational activities and motivational information to encourage behaviour change.

 

Opening Eyes®

The mission of Opening Eyes® is to improve the quality of life for millions of individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities by optimizing their vision, eye health and visual skills through quality eye care. A global partnership between Special Olympics and Lions Club International, an organization dedicated to global blindness prevention for more than 80 years, brings vision screenings to athletes worldwide. At Opening Eyes events, Special Olympics athletes receive extensive vision and eye health tests; refraction for those requiring further screening; prescription eyeglasses, if needed; prescription protective sports eyewear, if appropriate; and referral for follow-up care.

 

Special Smiles®

Special Smiles® uses dental screenings to increase awareness of the state of athletes' oral health for the athletes themselves, as well as their parents and/or caregivers. At a Special Smiles event, dental professionals provide oral screenings; oral health education and personal prevention products; and individually fitted sports mouth guards, if needed, for those athletes competing in contact or high-risk sports.

 

   
   
   

   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 
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