Since its inception in 1997, Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes program has made monumental strides in its commitment to identify and address the healthcare disparities that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) so often face.
Currently, the healthcare system is significantly lacking in free, safe, inclusive screening environments for individuals with IDD. Along with this, most healthcare professionals are given little to no education on providing inclusive care to individuals with IDD, resulting in diagnostic overshadowing, inadequate care, failure to diagnose and ongoing poor health outcomes.
Healthy Athletes strives to eradicate this. Not only does Healthy Athletes provide a free, safe and inclusive screening environment for individuals with IDD, but it also contributes to the development of inclusive health practices. This program offers Inclusive Health Training courses to various university health sciences programs, requires all student and healthcare professional volunteers to complete Special Olympics’ Healthcare Professional Training course and equips volunteers with hands-on experience during Healthy Athlete screenings—all practices that provide education on delivering inclusive care to individuals with IDD.
This year, Special Olympics Washington has witnessed the remarkable impact that Healthy Athletes has on our community. With more than 350 athletes already screened, Special Olympics Washington is committed to making these screenings accessible to as many athletes as possible by collaborating with coaches, local volunteers and athletes.
With determination and the support of our outstanding student and healthcare professional volunteers, we are well on our way to achieving our goal of screening at least 1,000 athletes and training over 200 volunteers by year’s end. Their unwavering commitment is propelling us closer to realizing our vision of establishing a global inclusive health system.
To learn more about Healthy Athletes and other health initiatives at Special Olympics Washington, please visit our page.