The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program offers health services and information to athletes in need. In the process, Special Olympics has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.
In New Hampshire, we currently offer health exams in four areas at our State Summer Games – Healthy Hearing; Healthy Eyes; Healthy Smiles; Fun Fitness. The exams are conducted in a welcoming, fun environment. We educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow up.
The Opening Eyes initiative includes exams and education about the importance of regular eye care. This program includes a full vision screening which will provide prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses to eligible athletes.
The Special Smiles initiative includes dental hygiene education to help ensure an adequate job of brushing and flossing as well as information on nutrition to understand how their diet affects their total health. As part of the exams, athletes are provided mouth guards, dental floss, and in some cases referrals for additional treatment that may be necessary.
The Healthy Hearing initiative includes screening for hearing impairments as well as providing corrective aides, such as hearing devices, or preventive devices, such as earplugs for swimmers. As part of this exam, a written report of their results, including any follow up care that they may need, is provided to each athlete.
The FUNFitness exam provides information about the importance of and methods to improve flexibility, functional strength and balance in sports performance and activities of daily living. At the FUNFitness exam, the physical therapist assesses flexibility of the hamstring, calf, shoulder rotator, and hip flexor muscle, functional strength of the abdominal and lower extremity muscles, and balance.
If you have athletes interested in becoming a Health Messenger, please see the Special Olympics Athlete Leadership page for more information.